It’s time for Clay Matthews to take a long look in the mirror.
The eight-year pro needs to be honest with himself. His production has tapered off in the last two years — yet he’s scheduled to be the No. 2 highest paid Packers player behind Aaron Rodgers.
Matthews’ $15 million cap hit for 2017 is especially disconcerting for a Green Bay team that desperately needs to reload on defense after getting throttled in the NFC Championship Game by Atlanta. Matthews is third in the NFL in pay for outside linebackers behind Justin Houston and Von Miller.
Thanks to nagging shoulder and hamstring injuries, Matthews is not the No. 3 edge rusher in the league. I don’t think Matthews is even top 10.
And this is where the Packers and Matthews have to find some common ground. In order for the Packers to get quicker and more dynamic, Matthews cannot be a financial albatross. Matthews turns 31 in May and is an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
You hate to always bring up the Patriots, but if Matthews refused to take a pay cut in New England, you can bet that Bill Belichick wouldn’t think twice about cutting him. Tom Brady had one of the better seasons as a quarterback this year, yet he has to know that Belichick is still very close to cutting the aging superstar.
In Matthews’ favor is the fact that he’s a team player. He agreed to be a hybrid linebacker a couple years ago when he flip-flopped between inside and outside. That needs to be taken into consideration but shouldn’t be the end-all be-all.
Matthews has been a solid player for the Packers, but his injuries combined with his lack of explosion don’t help his cause.
He needs to understand that the Packers defense can be great but it won’t start until he’s honest with himself.
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