On the same day the Green Bay Packers saw a long-time veteran exit the organization in Randall Cobb, they will also lose a key defensive cog of the past decade.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter report that Clay Matthews has inked a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams, ending a 10-year run in Green Bay. Matthews himself confirmed the signing with a post on his personal Twitter account:
For the Packers’ all-time leading sack artist, the move represents a return home to California for the Northridge native on the heels of the Rams re-signing fellow edge rusher Dante Fowler to a one-year contract last week. While the terms of the deal have not been fully disclosed, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network indicates Matthews’ deal is worth a maximum of $16.75 million.
After Green Bay’s signing of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to long-term, lucrative contracts on the second day of free agency, the departure of Matthews seemed inevitable. The former USC Trojan earned six Pro Bowl nods with the Packers in addition to First-Team All Pro honors in 2010 as a integral piece of the team’s championship run.
The former 2009 first round pick’s long-flowing hair, intensity, and knack for making big plays early in his career quickly made Matthews a fan favorite in Green Bay. Matthews burst onto the scene as a rookie, notching 10 sacks and being voted to his first Pro Bowl. His 13.5-sack season the following year, along with a critical forced fumble in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLV, cemented his notoriety around the league. The Packers signed Matthews to a five-year, $66 million extension in 2013.
But injuries slowed Matthews in recent seasons, with his last double-digit sack season coming in 2014. Despite playing in all 16 games last season, Matthews finished with just 3.5 sacks, the lowest total of his career. There was speculation that Matthews’ best fit in Green Bay might come with a move to inside linebacker, a position he tested out in parts of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Still, it figured to take a hometown discount on Matthews’ part to keep the Packers’ legend within the organization.
Matthews finishes his Packers tenure with 83.5 sacks, 121 tackles for a loss, 15 forced fumbles, six interceptions, five fumble recoveries, and three touchdowns.