Clay Matthews

When you have an elite pass rusher in the prime of his career (age: 26), you don’t sit around thinking about other options to save money. Clay Matthews has been one of the most productive defensive players in the NFL for the past few seasons, and the Green Bay Packers chose wisely to pay him like one.

The extension Matthews signed is worth $65 million for the next five season, of them $31 million in guaranteed money. Matthews will receive $22 million by the end of 2013 and $27 million in the next 12 months. He was set to make a base of $3.73 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal.

The Packers had other options in how to handle the situation, but risked infuriating and alienating the player with stalling tactics. The Packers had the option of letting Matthews play out the final season on his rookie contract and see that he doesn’t get injured or some other obstacle arises before making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL.

Another option was to franchise him for the 2014 season, which would have meant a contract worth around $10 million on a franchise tender. But you don’t give up on players of Matthews quality, who has shown while healthy and injured how important he is to the team.

Since 2009, only four players in the league have more sacks than him, with Matthews recording 42.5 in 58 games. Last season, missing four games, the Packers’ run defense suffered greatly, allowing 5.5 yards per rush. Once he returned, the number dropped to 3.4 in the first two games after his return. He has also missed only 17 tackles over the past four season, a rare and very low number for a player who is on the field for every down.

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