Murmurs of the Packers restructuring Clay Matthews’ contract, or even cutting him, were taking place prior to a disastrous 2017 season. After limited productivity last season, those murmurs have turned into hymns. Matthews, now 31, finished 2017 with 8.5 sacks and played 62% of the team’s defensive snaps. Earlier this week Matthews underwent a minor knee surgery that was considered a “cleanup”. Surgeries for Matthews have almost become as regular as an oil change. This was not the ideal start to the most important offseason for the Packers all-time sack leader. Matthews is overpaid. His output is not matching up to what the organization is putting into his bank account. Forcing new GM Brian Gutekunst to make a calculated decision.
Matthews is due just over $11 million dollars as he heads into the final year of his contract. Gutekunst has already said he will be more aggressive in some areas than his predecessor Ted Thompson. Clearing that much cash off of payroll will be tempting for a trigger happy GM trying to make an early impact.
Here are some potential targets.
As you can see there is not much to get excited about.
Is getting rid of Matthews going to help improve the Packers defense in 2018? Absolutely not. He plays with the one of the highest motors on the team and his replacement will not see the same success. Not too mention, you can now insert a new defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, who would love to squeeze the remaining juices out a 6-time pro bowler.
Petting loves to blitz and having a versatile player in Matthews is not something you can find off the streets of free agency. Do you really want to see the Packers bring in another guy like Ahmad Brooks to help the pass rush in Matthews place? Didn’t think so.
The Packers need to leave the tough decision of bringing back Matthews for next offseason. When his contract expires. Right now, he is still an impact player. Especially against the run.
See here as he shoots the gap beautifully.
Clay Matthews still so spry, bouncy, athletic, relentless.. Loves to shoot gaps and time snaps. Welcome to NFL Ramczyk – no chance here pic.twitter.com/gQH5uiGD4e
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 25, 2017
Allowing a rookie in Vince Biegel to watch Matthews put in work on and off the field won’t hurt either. Biegel needs to be primed to make an impact next season. Letting Matthews walk won’t help Biegel’s development when he is forced to play more snaps than he bargained for. The Packers ranked 17th in the NFL in total sacks as a team with 37. Matthews led the team with his sack total of 8.5. This really isn’t a debate. No. 52 needs to stay.
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.