Green Bay Packers 2018 roster preview: Clay Matthews

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

A closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ premier edge rusher.

Entering the 10th year of his Green Bay Packers career, Clay Matthews is still a key piece on defense.

With 81 regular season sacks to his name, the Packers will be hoping he can hit double-digit sacks for the first time since 2014.

Here’s a preview of Matthews’ 2018 season.

2017 stats

Last season, Matthews played 14 games, registered 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and defended two passes. According to Pro Football Reference, Matthews played on 62.36 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, up from 46.26 percent the year prior.

2017 review

It was a solid season for Matthews. While the Packers’ pass rush struggled, Matthews played well enough, and fell just short of recording double-digit sacks.

Odds of making roster: 99 percent

Unless Matthews has a terrible training camp and is a surprise cut, he’ll be a member of the Packers’ roster in 2018. While there was talk earlier in the offseason that Green Bay could release Matthews to free up cap room, that turned out not to be the case. GM Brian Gutekunst instead cut Jordy Nelson.

The Packers have made surprising cuts prior to the start of the season in the past (See: Josh Sitton), but considering the team’s lack of depth at outside linebacker, it’s highly unlikely.

Matthews, along with Nick Perry, will need to continue to play at a high level.

2018 preview

Once again, Matthews and Perry will be relied on to produce the majority of the team’s sacks.

Matthews pretty much said so himself.

“You look at the depth at the outside-linebacker position, and it’s not that great,” Matthews said, according to Rob Demovsky of ESPN. “That’s not a slight to the guys who are behind Nick and myself, but you look around the league, a lot of times they’re rotating in pass-rushers.”

And he’s got a point.

The Packers need young players like Vince Biegel and Reggie Gilbert to step up. And while this could happen, neither player has much experience.

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If they don’t get more production from Biegel or Gilbert, it will be mostly down to Matthews and Perry to get it done. And, of course, to stay healthy.