Best pass rushers in Green Bay Packers history: 3. Clay Matthews III
- Super Bowl Champion (XLV)
- First-Team All-Pro (2010)
- 6x Pro Bowl (2009-12, 2014-15)
- Franchise leader in quarterback sacks (83.5+)
- 4x 10+ quarterback sack seasons (2009-10, 2012, 2014)
- 7x Packers season leader in quarterback sacks (2009-14, 2017)
Clay Matthews III coming in at only No. 3 might come as a surprise to some Cheeseheads, but he is firmly in the top-three all-time in Packers pass rushing lore. No worries, as the two guys ahead of him are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Maybe Matthews gets there someday like his uncle Bruce Matthews of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans?
Okay, Matthews’ namesake father still hasn’t been enshrined, despite being an elite linebacker for the Cleveland Browns in the 1980s. Regardless, Clay Matthews III is undoubtedly one of the greatest Packers of the 21st century.
Despite being mostly a reserve in college playing for Pete Carroll at USC, Matthews was a first-round pick by the Packers in the 2009 NFL Draft. All Matthews did as a rookie was lead the team in sacks with 10.0 and make his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
2010 was not only a special year for Matthews, but for the Packers as well. Matthews posted 13.5 quarterback sacks, made his second career trip to the Pro Bowl and made his only First-Team All-Pro squad to date. Most importantly, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers that February.
Matthews has so far made six career trips to the Pro Bowl (2009-12, 2014-15), has registered over 10 quarterback sacks in a season four times (2009-10, 2012, 2014) and has led the franchise in sacks in a season seven times (2009-14, 2017).
So it’s only fitting that Matthews is the Packers’ franchise leader in sacks with 83.5 through the 2018 NFL season. Though he only had 3.5 in 2018, Matthews is only in his early 30s and could surpass 100 in his Packers career before he retires. That might be enough to ensure his place in Canton several years down the road.
Matthews is now entering his second decade as a member of the Packers. He may be past his prime, but he did lead the team in sacks in 2017 with 7.5. Not to say that he has any 10-sack seasons left in the tank, but look for him to build on his total as the Packers’ franchise leader in that department.
Frankly, Matthews is a borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate through his first 10 years in the league. However, given that he was the most popular defensive player on the team during Aaron Rodgers’ prime, his high-profile nature could give him the boost he needs once the time comes. In the meantime, look for Matthews to continue to build on his already impressive body of work in Green Bay.