by Kevin Culligan
Clay Matthews is the second highest-paid player on the Green Bay Packers, with a cap hit of $15.075 million for 2017. That’s second only to Aaron Rodgers, and it makes him the fifth highest-paid edge rusher in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com.
This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for Matthews’ recent slide in production. Matthews’ first four seasons in the league were excellent, as he averaged 10.6 sacks per year. In 2013, Matthews signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension.
Since then, his sack numbers have dropped.
Matthews has totaled just 11.5 combined sacks in the past two seasons, including a career-low five this past year.
In a somewhat surprising turn, though, Matthews’ five sacks in 2016 was not an outlier among the NFL’s ten highest-paid edge rushers. He was tied for sixth in that group.
Regardless of the data above, though, the answer is probably yes: Clay Matthews is overpaid.
The contract that Matthews signed four years ago was to compensate him for being a game-changing force on the edge, and he hasn’t been that in recent seasons. Much of that could be attributed to injuries, but even when healthy, he doesn’t seem to be a chief concern for offenses anymore.
At this stage in his career, Matthews is probably best off playing a good deal of inside linebacker, where he can use his athletic ability without risking injury by engaging 320-pound offensive tackles on every play.
Matthews might not be asked to take a pay cut this offseason. But barring the completely unexpected, he’ll have to take significantly less when his current contract expires after 2017.