Why the Packers shouldn’t re-sign Clay Matthews this offseason

Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers shouldn’t re-sign Clay Matthews this offseason.

Clay Matthews has had an incredible career with the Green Bay Packers. He’s the team’s all-time sack leader, a three-time All-Pro, a six-time Pro Bowler, a former PFWA NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and of course, a Super Bowl winner.

Matthews was the most important player on defense for the Packers for many years, and he was a game-changer.

He will go down as one of the greatest players in Green Bay Packers history, but he may have played his final game for the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Matthews is a free agent this offseason, and general manager Brian Gutekunst will need to decide whether to offer him a new deal to stay in Green Bay.

Green Bay’s defense finished the 2018 season with 44 sacks, but Matthews contributed just 3.5. It was a career-low for Matthews, and that includes seasons that he’s missed four or five games (Matthews put up 7.5 sacks in 11 games in 2013).

The other big factor is age as Matthews will turn 33 in May. He hasn’t been the same dominant pass rusher he once was in recent years, and age isn’t on his side.

The next factor will be price. While it’s unlikely Matthews will earn a huge, long-term contract, teams are always searching for pass rushers, and it’s possible a team spends more than the Packers are willing to based on Matthews’ past production.

Could Matthews contribute to Mike Pettine’s defense next season? Absolutely. For a low-cost, one-year deal, it would make sense. But to sign Matthews to a multi-year contract would come with some risk.

The Packers need to strengthen their pass rush this offseason, so it might seem counterintuitive to not re-sign Matthews, but I think the opposite is true. By not bringing back Matthews and possible moving on from Nick Perry, Brian Gutekunst will be forced to bring in new talent in free agency and the draft.

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The thought of watching Matthews play for another team is strange, much like it was with Jordy Nelson last year. But despite Matthews’ incredible career in Green Bay, it’s time for the Packers to move on at edge rusher.