The Packers have agreed to a long-term extension with a player who will anchor a key position for many years, and he isn’t named Aaron Rodgers.
No, though Rodgers’ extension is surely coming soon, this one has gone to Clay Matthews. The pass rusher who was set to enter the final year of his contract has reportedly reached an agreement in principle on a multi-year extension, according to Ian Rapoport.
The dollar figures will soon follow, and if you’re nice I may update this post with that information. But we can assume this contract will include many zeroes, especially after earlier this month ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Packers intended to make Matthews the highest paid linebacker in league history. The Scheft also reported that when the required I’s are dotted and T’s crossed, Matthews’ new contract will pay him an average of $13 million annually.
(UPDATE: Oh hey look, an update. Schefter was right a few weeks ago, as Jay Glazer is reporting that the extension is for five years and it’ll average just over $13 million annually, putting him among the highest paid defenders in league history. Including the one year he had left on his current contract, Matthews is now signed through the 2018 season. In total, Matthews will receive $31 million in guaranteed cash, and an overall base salary of $66 million.)
So in short, Clay Matthews has more money than you. In a league where seemingly every signing and draft pick and trade is centered around the passing game (doing more of it offensively, or preventing it defensively), securing the motor of your team’s pass rush is a rather easy decision.
That’s especially true for the Packers with their estimated $17.8 million in salary cap room prior to today, which is plenty of space to sign Matthews, though signing Rodgers to a rumored extension that could pay him $25 million annually will require, um, creativity.
The only concern with Matthews is his health, as during his four NFL seasons he’s played a full 16-game schedule just once, most recently missing four games (also known as a quarter of the regular season) in 2012. A certain level of insanity and barbaric behavior is inherent in the character and play of every pass rusher. But to be successful, Matthews often takes that even a step further. Surely during negotiations there was also grave concern about him breaking both his legs in a car accident.
Despite that missed time this past season, Matthews still recorded 13 of the Packers’ 51 total sacks. That put him on a stratosphere with his own private villa, as his closest teammate (Mike Neal) finished with only 4.5 sacks. Numbers lead to leverage, and leverage leads to straight cash.
Make it rain, Clay.