Lions CB Mathis retires after 13 seasons

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Rashean Mathis

After 13 seasons in the NFL, Rashean Mathis is retiring.

The 35-year-old cornerback spent the last three years with the Lions after playing 10 seasons for his hometown team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Mathis made the announcement from a driving range in Jacksonville, Fla., in a video on the Lions website in which he said playing for coach Jim Caldwell the past two seasons made this a happy ending to his career.

In August 2013, the Lions signed Mathis to a one-year deal hoping to see if he could provide depth after injuries led to the Jaguars cut him. After earning a spot on the team, Mathis started 13 games in his first year, all 16 in 2014 and seven in 2015 before a concussion led to him going on injured reserve.

Mathis was a first-team All-Pro in 2006 with the Jaguars when he had a career-high eight interceptions.

The Lions signed Mathis to a two-year contract last March to a two-year deal. He had a $1 million base salary and a $500,000 roster bonus due next month, but the Lions will save that money on the salary cap.

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At the end of the season, Mathis said the only two options for him in 2016 were to play for the Lions or retire.

Although Mathis would’ve been relatively inexpensive, the Lions have a group of young cornerbacks that played well in the second half of 2015, including Darius Slay, Quandre Diggs and Nevin Lawson. The Lions also drafted cornerback Alex Carter in the third round last year, but he missed the entire season on IR.

A second-round pick out of Bethune-Cookman in 2003, Mathis assumed a leadership role as soon as he arrived in Detroit, tutoring young cornerbacks and spending time with Slay in the offseason.

"Like most of us that have been doing it a while, it’s in his DNA so he doesn’t want to get away from it," Caldwell said of Mathis in December. "But not only that, his mentorship, his communication with the guys that play the position has been invaluable. He loves being around the guys and serves in that role, which he certainly doesn’t have to do, but he’s one of those unusual guys that it’s more about the team than about himself.”

Mathis did not immediately return a phone call from The Detroit News. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, congratulated Mathis on Twitter.

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