The Packers locked up star linebacker Clay Matthews with a long-term extension Wednesday as the team took care of one of its top two stars in need of new deals. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also in negotiations for an extension.
Matthews posted a picture of himself on Twitter signing the deal, saying, “Trivial amongst the recent tragic news, but happy to continue my career in Green Bay!” The Packers did not announce terms of the extension, reported to be for five years, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the deal is worth $66 million. That would put Matthews on par with Dallas outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, whose contract also averages $13 million per year.
“Clay has been a productive member of our team and we are pleased to be able to come to an agreement that will extend his Packers career,” general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.
With Matthews’ deal done, the Packers now can turn all of their attention to Rodgers, whose extension is expected to make him the highest-paid player in the league. Agent David Dunn represents Matthews and Rodgers, as well as defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
Matthews was set to earn a base of $3.73 million this season in the final year of his rookie deal, signed after the Packers made him the 26th pick in the 2009 draft. But the 26-year-old’s price tag has gone up considerably as he’s become one of the top linebackers in the NFL. He had 42 1/2 sacks in his first four seasons, fifth-best in the NFL during that span. He’s finished in the top five in the league in sacks in two of the last three seasons, with 13 1/2 in 2010 and 13 in 2012.
The 13 sacks last season, which were fourth-best in the NFL, came despite Matthews missing four games with a hamstring injury.
Matthews has three 10-sack seasons, third-best in Packers history, and nine games with two or more sacks. The son of Clay Matthews Jr., who played linebacker for 19 NFL seasons in Cleveland and Atlanta, and nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Matthews is the only player in Packers history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. His 7 1/2 sacks in the postseason are second-best in franchise history.
Matthews also has four interceptions in 58 games, including two that were returned for touchdowns. He’s forced seven fumbles and recovered three, one of which was returned for a score.
“Congratulations to Clay, who has quickly developed into a core member of our team,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “His accomplishments and the example he sets on and off the field will be vital to our continued success. We look forward to the rest of his Packers career.”