Much has been made of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews’ huge contract. He’s in the final year of a deal that will feature a cap hit of $11.4 million. If the Packers released him, they wouldn’t take on a dime in dead money because of the way the contract was structured.
So, considering Matthews is no longer the elite pass rusher he was when he signed the deal, there has been speculation that might happen.
But as we’ve said before, probably not. General manager Brian Gutekunst seemed to confirm that Matthews, in one way or another, will be with the Packers in 2018.
“He still plays at a very, very high level. He’s such a versatile player for us, and I think it will be neat to see how Mike (Pettine) and his new staff kind of use him and maybe move him around,” Gutekunst said. “So I’m excited to see that. Clay has been a good player for a long time. We expect him to be a good player moving forward.”
Although we’ve previously noted that Matthews had a solid 2017 season, the sack numbers aren’t what they once were. He hasn’t hit double digits since 2014, when he had 11. Matthews had 7.5 in 2017.
Of course, it should be noted that Matthews isn’t an every-down rusher anymore. He played inside linebacker for a year and a half and often finds himself in coverage because of his speed an athleticism.
Still, that’s a lot of money.
Could the Packers ask Matthews to take a pay cut? Sure, but why would he?
The best scenario for the Packers that we see is they extend Matthews in order to lower his 2018 cap hit. He gets more guaranteed years and income, the Packers get some cap relief. Everyone wins.
That said, if you’re Clay Matthews, why not bet on yourself, play out the final year of the deal as is and hope to cash in again following the 2018 season? If I were betting, that’s the option I’d bet on.