Packers: The curious case of Clay Matthews

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18: Clay Matthews
SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18: Clay Matthews /

It has been a wild week in the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers were major players in the action.

Free agent defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson paid a visit to Packers News. Then the Packers traded draft picks along with cornerback Damarious Randall to the Browns in exchange for quarterback DeShone Kizer. Clearly new GM Brian Gutekunst is ready to make an impact by reshaping the team.

But are even bigger moves on the way? An article on The Jet Press raises an intriguing question. Will the Packers make a move with Clay Matthews?

While it may be difficult to admit as a fan, the numbers don’t lie. Matthews is certainly not playing up to the standards he set earlier in his career. Frankly, he hasn’t for some time. The six-time Pro Bowler hasn’t played a full season since 2015. The past two seasons he has only registered 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles while missing six games.

According to Spotrac, the Packers could jettison Matthews and what’s left on his contract (more than $11 million dollars) without any salary cap ramifications. This situation certainly paints an interesting picture for Gutekunst and new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to consider.

Choices for 2018

One option is keeping the status quo. Matthews could easily slot in as an OLB for the Packers in 2018 and very few fans would question that move. Pettine may even have some unique packages to free up Matthews allowing him more space to pressure the passer as an edge rusher.

Or would a position change make sense? Because of the struggles the Packers have had in the middle of the defense, perhaps Matthews could reprise his ILB role? He is at least as intriguing as an inside backer as Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan, even at his age.

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Without confirmation of his status with the team in the form of a contract extension, questions remain. It is easy to think that if Matthews is a Packer in 2018 – it may be his last season playing home games in Lambeau Field.