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For One Game, Packers Get Little Return on Investment from Big Three Offseason Contract Extensions

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For One Game, Packers Get Little Return on Investment from Big Three Offseason Contract Extensions

It was just one game, but the Green Bay Packers got shockingly little in return from the three players they chose to give big-time contract extensions this past offseason.

Those three are quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett.

When Burnett didn't play at all, Rodgers turned in arguably his worst game in four seasons and Matthews could only play for one half of football, the Packers lost 34-30 on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Sure, they the half they got out of Matthews was a good one that included a sack and a forced fumble that led to a touchdown (his second forced fumble should be credited to Datone Jones). It's just a shame that they didn't get two halves out of Matthews.

The Packers paid for that second half, after all. Just like they've paid Burnett to sit on the sidelines the past three games.

Getting one good half of football out of Clay Matthews is like the Milwaukee Brewers getting a two-run home run from Aramis Ramirez before he exits in the bottom of the fourth with an injury.

If the Brewers don't get enough production from the rest of the lineup and the pitching staff, the homer is all for naught. At least in the win-loss column.

The Packers on Sunday didn't get enough from their supporting cast. It was an up-and-down day for nearly every player on the roster.

Johnathan Franklin's 100-yard game was overshadowed for his fumble that was returned for a go-ahead touchdown.

Sam Shields shut down A.J. Green for a majority of the game, but his biggest mistake ended in a touchdown for the star wide receiver.

The offensive line paved the way for 6.1 yards per carry but was responsible for allowing four sacks and eight quarterback hits.

Jeremy Ross alertly fielded a kickoff out-of-bounds that resulted in Bengals penalty, but that couldn't make up for muff that led to a turnover earlier in game.

James Jones caught a touchdown pass but gave up on a route that ended in an interception.

Etcetera, etcetera.

All this isn't to say the Packers made a poor decision in extending offers to their high-profile trio.

It's just when those three players don't factor into the outcome of the game more than they did against the Bengals, it's going to be difficult for the Packers to win away from home. And that's especially true when the rest of the team isn't picking up the slack.

After all, we're not talking about the performances of Seneca Wallace, Chris Banjo and Rob Francois, all of whom signed one-year contracts this offseason. We're talking about three players expected to play at a high level now and for years to come.

For what it's worth, Rodgers received a seven-year deal worth $130.75 million, Matthews inked a six-year contract worth $66.77 million, and Burnett got a five-year deal worth $26.07 million.

The Packers paid top dollar for those three but only got about two good quarters out of 12 from Rodgers, Matthews and Burnett combined.

It's always difficult to blame the injury, but only in Week 4, the Packers sure could use the opportunity for a little R&R.

In addition to other players on the team, Burnett and Matthews can use the time to allow their hamstrings to heal, while Rodgers can use it to clear his head of the cobwebs after getting knocked around by the Bengals front seven.

Certainly, one game didn't cost the Packers the season. But how the rest of the season plays out will be largely influenced by the performance of their "big three" from this offseason.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

corbin's picture

what is the point of this article?

two of them were injured and rodgers had a bad game, you dont sign them to play one game, the purpose of a multiyear contract is to lock them up and then progress them

you cant predict injuries

Morgan Mundane's picture

I think you missed the real issue: Perry number 1 pick and all the runs are going right at him. Many successfully. Datone Jones. Number 1, big money, sat out a lot of the game and just came in infrequently, did block a kick and I think caused a fumble but why is he sitting. James Worthless, number two pick as done nada for two seasons. Yes he is hurt and yet he is doing nothing.
Thats the problem, top draft picks who are not very good.

Mark in the montain's picture

D Jones sits because a bad ankle is a big deal for D-linemen, and he needs to rest it as-much-as-possible till it heals. There is something wrong with how the Packers deal with hamstrings, this mught be the nature of the players they draft, but I suspect it is the way they condition and practice. If I knew the answer I'd give it.
AR got frustrated and angry as the game progressed - MM deserves a lot of the blame for that. Bad in-game strategy to fight with your QB! AR will learn from this. MM I have my doubts will learn anything.

dawg's picture

Until TT figures out how to draft OL-DL, expect the same! Thats why SF, SS and CB are top tier, they have the big boys in the trenches!
Beware AR, another day like Cincy., could cost you your career!
You got ur ass handed to ya! Thanks to your coach and OL!

Jamie's picture

SF was destroyed at home by a team that almost lost the the Raiders. They peaked week 1.

JakeK's picture

No one’s talking to you or any of your aliases. … Go away.

jack in jersey city's picture

actually, the o-line held up fairly well against one of the best d-lines in the NFL. sounds like you don't know the &*%$ you're talking about!

JakeK's picture

I worked for several decades. When I felt that I didn't do my job as well as I should have, I returned the corresponding paycheck and apologized profusely to my employers. ... I'm sure all three, Rodgers, Matthews & Burnett, are thinking about returning this week's paycheck... An apology will probably appear from these malingerers in all major Wisconsin newspapers on Monday or Tuesday.

It would only be right.


Jamie's picture

You should return all of our oxygen for being such a low-life troll.

JakeK's picture

No one's talking to you or any of your aliases. ... Go away.

Mojo's picture

Yeah, ARod had a bad game. But in his defense the INT thrown to Jones was because JJ didn't finish his route. Plus one of his best targets - Finley, was out almost the entire game. The other TE's offer very little as receivers. I don't think he called the Franklin 4th and 1 right into the heart of the Cincy D, considering our o-line hasn't pushed anyone backwards in how long? He was harassed and beaten-up the entire game. The Bengals have a good defense.

What bothered me the most about Rodgers was his showing up the coach on the sidelines. It's OK to disagree, but do it behind closed doors. Especially don't do it to the HC. Didn't we see his predecessor take over the team under Sherman?

jack in jersey city's picture

i think the finley injury was an even bigger issue than we think. from listening to mccarthy's presser, it sounds like a lot of the offensive game plan involved finley and losing him sent things in a bit of a tailspin. it makes sense though- they didn't have anyone who could match up with jermichael. it wouldn't surprise me if zimmer told his guys to take some cheap shots on finley. i still can't believe there was no penalty on that play!

Longshanks's picture

I agree 100%. No doubt that Cinci defense was instructed to "take out" Finley and they did with a cheap shot to the head. For any people that still hate Finley just stop. We need the guy. He's one of the best tight ends in the league.

Last year people were saying how they would prefer Crabtree over Finley. Give me a break!! Finley is probably the most talented tight ends in the history of the Packers franchise. We need him back and healthy ASAP.

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