Clay Matthews

Rams To Sign OLB Clay Matthews

Clay Matthews will be returning to southern California. The USC product and longtime Packer linebacker will sign with the Rams, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Via some uniform art, Matthews confirmed his decision (on Twitter).

The Rams and Matthews agreed on a two-year deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. This deal will max out at $16.75MM, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). While it’s unlikely Matthews’ base salary surpasses $8MM, Ian Rapoport notes he was one of the Rams’ top free agency targets (Twitter link). With one of the linebacker’s homes located within minutes of the Rams’ training facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., this seems like a convenient landing for the free agent sack artist.

More lucrative offers came Matthews’ way, per Garafolo, who adds staying close to home was a priority for the 11th-year linebacker. After entering last season with significant issues at outside linebacker, the Rams now have Matthews and Dante Fowler early in this offseason.

Matthews finished last season with a career-low 3.5 sacks. He saw his Packers job essentially given to younger pass rushers, with Green Bay replacing its Matthews-Nick Perry setup and going with a Preston SmithZa’Darius Smith combination. Rams rumors emerged last week, and the soon-to-be 33-year-old edge rusher is set to be a key part of Los Angeles’ pass rush.

The former USC Trojan and L.A.-area high school standout went on to record 83.5 sacks with the Packers, en route to six Pro Bowls. While those honors came between 2009-15, the Packers’ all-time sack leader working as a pass-rush specialist in L.A. would be interesting. Matthews, who collected a Super Bowl ring eight years ago, follows Eric Weddle to the defending NFC champions’ defense.

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Rams Interested In Clay Matthews?

The Rams could be a potential landing spot for Clay Matthews, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). The long-time Packers star is set to join another club for the first time in his career, and Los Angeles is the first club with reported interest.

We learned at the beginning of the 2018 campaign that Green Bay was prepared to let the 32-year-old linebacker (33 in May) hit free agency. And although Matthews produced just 3.5 sacks in 2018, he still graded out as an above-average edge defender, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. Plus, he is one year removed from a very strong 2017 campaign, when he recorded 7.5 sacks and graded out as one of the better pass rushers in the league.

The double-digit sack seasons appear to be in the rear-view mirror, but Matthews clearly has something left in the tank as a situational pass rusher. The Rams have a couple of members of their front seven who are capable of getting to the quarterback (see, Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler), and Matthews would further enhance a unit that ranked in the middle of the pack in sacks last season.

Matthews has six Pro Bowl bids and one First Team All-Pro nod to his credit, though he hasn’t received either honor since the 2015 season.

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Packers Unlikely To Re-Sign Clay Matthews?

The Packers are unlikely to re-sign pass rusher Clay Matthews, according to Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com, who reports Green Bay would let Matthews walk in free agency if the season ended today.

Matthews, 32, is in the final season of a five-year, $66MM extension he signed in April 2013. Next year, he’s scheduled to earn a base salary of $10.4MM and count for roughly $11.338MM on Green Bay’s salary cap. A new deal for Matthews could reduce his 2018 cap figure, especially if it contains a signing bonus that would prorate over the life of the pact, and Matthews recently indicated his representatives have discussed an extension with the Packers.

“My agency and upstairs have had talks,” Matthews said. “We’ll see where it goes. At the same time, I’ll just go out there and do my things and let the pieces fall where they may. “I’ve been here going on 10 years, so I’d like to obviously add a few more to that. I’m not in control of that. All I can control is what I do on Sundays, and hopefully it’s a big year.”

Of course, the primary reason there are conflicting reports on Matthews is that the season isn’t over: the Packers don’t have any impetus to address Matthews’ contact at this point, but the veteran linebacker could conceivably change the club’s mind over the course of the year. While Green Bay may be inclined to let Matthews leave via free agency next spring, it doesn’t appear that any strategy is set in stone.

As Matthews has aged, the Packers have reduced his snaps. Over the past two years, Matthews averaged only 566 snaps per season; conversely, from 2012-15, he saw action on 801 plays per year. That reduced usage may have helped Matthews’ play, as he graded as the NFL’s No. 22 pass rusher last season, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned Matthews his best marks since the 2012 campaign.

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Packers, Clay Matthews Have Discussed Extension

The Packers have discussed an extension with edge rusher Clay Matthews, according to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

“My agency and upstairs have had talks,” Matthews said. “We’ll see where it goes. At the same time, I’ll just go out there and do my things and let the pieces fall where they may. “I’ve been here going on 10 years, so I’d like to obviously add a few more to that. I’m not in control of that. All I can control is what I do on Sundays, and hopefully it’s a big year.”

Matthews, 32, is in the final season of a five-year, $66MM extension he signed in April 2013. Next year, he’s scheduled to earn a base salary of $10.4MM and count for roughly $11.338MM on Green Bay’s salary cap. A new deal for Matthews could reduce his 2018 cap figure, especially if it contains a signing bonus that would prorate over the life of the pact.

As Matthews has aged, the Packers have reduced his snaps. Over the past two years, Matthews averaged only 566 snaps per season; conversely, from 2012-15, he saw action on 801 plays per year. That reduced usage may have helped Matthews’ play, as he graded as the NFL’s No. 22 pass rusher last season, per Pro Football Focus, which assigned Matthews his best marks since the 2012 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Schwartz, Matthews, Godwin, Panthers

This past offseason, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was often talked about as a potential target for teams with head coaching vacancies. He was floated as a candidate for several head coaching jobs, but didn’t get any of them.

Schwartz has seen his coaching career revitalized after a resurgent Eagles defense that he oversaw ended up winning the Super Bowl this past year. Schwartz was the head coach of the Lions from 2009 to 2013, and most people seem to think the recent success of the Eagles’ defense will land him another head coaching gig at some point.

In a recent article, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders how long the Eagles will be able to keep Schwartz, and opines that he’ll likely be gone sooner rather than later. McLane notes that Schwartz doesn’t seem particularly attached to the Eagles when he speaks to the press, and that he isn’t likely to be the type of coordinator that sticks around for many years. Schwartz isn’t really keeping it a secret that he wants to be a head coach again, and he’ll likely be moving on from the Eagles whenever the first opportunity presents itself.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Packers linebacker Clay Matthews suffered a broken nose during a charity softball game and had to be transported to the hospital (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). Matthews has already missed time during OTAs due to a knee injury, so the broken nose shouldn’t effect things too much.
  • Buccaneers second-year wide receiver Chris Godwin had an issue with his mouthguard last season that caused his breathing and stamina to suffer, reports Jenna Laine of ESPN (Twitter link). Laine notes that the issue has since been corrected and that she’s expecting “big things” from him in 2018. It’s significant because the Bucs have made it very clear they love Godwin, and the team could seek to get out of DeSean Jackson‘s contract after this year with Jackson having very little guaranteed money beyond this season.
  • Some NFL owners “dreamt” that the Panthers would sell for $3 billion, according to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Instead, the Panthers sold to Dave Tepper for $2.275 billion. Breer notes that if the Broncos, who have faced recent controversy surrounding their ownership, were to go up for sale it wouldn’t be “unrealistic” for them to get $3 billion. The value of NFL franchises continues to skyrocket, and the fact that some owners thought the Panthers might get $3 billion shows there’s no sign of the increase slowing down.

 

NFC Notes: Packers, Redskins, Vikings, Giants

When asked by reporters today whether Clay Matthews Jr.’s shoulder injury is more concerning that Aaron Rodgers‘ hamstring ailment, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy responded with a simple answer: “Yes.” According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, McCarthy said the club will wait for further results on Matthews’ issue before speculating as to his status for Sunday’s game against the Texans, but Green Bay can ill afford to lose any more linebackers. Starters Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez, plus reserve Kyler Fackrell, were all inactive last night, meaning the Packers are heavily leaning on Matthews’ ability play inside and outside ‘backer.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Kirk Cousins could be playing himself into the $24MM per year range as he continues to rack up yards and touchdowns for the Redskins, said former agent Joel Corry on 106.7 The Fan today (Twitter link via Grant Paulsen). Cousins, who topped the inaugural edition of PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings, is reportedly asking for $23.94MM — the amount he’d get under the ’17 franchise tag — annually. Conflicting reports have emerged as to whether Washington would be willing to franchise Cousins again next season.
  • Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was spotted doing some light running today, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link). It was reported last week that Peterson was likely to run around this time. This could be a good sign for Peterson, who is pushing to return from IR in December.
  • 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries played well in his first attempt at left tackle on Sunday, and his solid showing gives the Cardinals options going forward, writes Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. Not only could Humphries continue to play on the blindside in 2016, with Jared Veldheer moving to right tackle, but he could allow Arizona to move on from Veldheer in years to come if the club needs to create cap space.
  • The Giants need to extend defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul before he hits free agency, argues Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com. Now more than a year removed from a fireworks accident, JPP has returned to his old form and could look to score on the open market next spring. New York, of course, has already invested heavily in its front four by handing large contracts to Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison, and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is also headed for free agency.
  • The Eagles announced that right guard Brandon Brooks has been released from the hospital. Brooks was placed in the hospital before last night’s game against the Packers and ended up missing the contest with a mystery ailment. As such, his availability for Week 13 against Cincinnati is unclear.

NFL Clears Harrison, Matthews, Peppers

The NFL has cleared James Harrison, Clay Matthews, and Julius Peppers in the PED probe, a source tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter). There was “no credible evidence” found in the league’s investigation or interviews. Al Jazeera (vertical)

Late last year, a documentary from Al- Jazeera America linked Harrison, Matthews, Peppers, Peyton Manning, and Mike Neal to a pharmaceutical company in Indiana where Charles Sly claimed that he supplied athletes with performance enhancing drugs. Since then, the NFL has been investigating the five players named and recently began the process of interviewing them.

Manning immediately consented, but the other players were opposed to the interviews and fought back per the advise of the NFLPA. Eventually, Harrison, Matthews, Peppers, and Neal (after some additional deliberation) agreed to do the interviews. Roughly one week later, the first three have been cleared by the league office while there is no word just yet on Neal.

Latest On Harrison, Matthews, Peppers

This week, the NFL interviewed Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and Steelers linebacker James Harrison with regards to the allegations raised in the infamous Al Jazeera documentary. During those interviews, the league did not raise any new evidence or allegations, a source close to the situation tells Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. Clay Matthews/Julius Peppers (vertical)

After weeks of will they/won’t they talk, the three players consented to interviews with the league office under threat of suspension. Peyton Manning was the first player of the bunch to agree to an interview and free agent Mike Neal stands as the last straggler.

If the league has no further proof of anything tying these players to the Guyer Institute, then a statement clearing all three of them could be forthcoming.

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NFL Sets Dates For PED Interviews

The NFL will meet with Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers in Green Bay on Wednesday to discuss the league’s ongoing PED investigation, a source tells Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter links). Steelers linebacker James Harrison‘s interview will take place on August 30 in Pittsburgh, while free agent Mike Neal will sit down with the league this Thursday in Chicago.Clay Matthews

Last week, the NFL stated that the four players involved in the PED scandal — which was spurred by an Al-Jazeera documentary that aired earlier this year — would be required to submit to interviews by August 25 or face suspension. The NFL received written statements from the four players in question at the end of last month, and the NFLPA is of the opinion that those affadavits qualify as “cooperation.” The league disagrees, and is still requiring the individuals to partake in in-person interviews.

Harrison, for his part, has said he never denied any interview, but claimed he’d like like for the meeting to be televised (and also referred to commissioner Roger Goodell as a “crook”). He, Matthews, and Peppers agreed to sit-downs, but Neal was of a different mind, at least originally. One report indicated that Neal had no intention of meeting with the NFL given that he’s considering retirement, but that notion was quickly disputed, and Neal will interview with the league.

We’ve spent the last few days advising our players and letting them know in a completely honest and open way exactly what their options are, what they want to do,” NFLPA president Eric Winston said last week. “Each case is different, each guy is different. Each guy might want to do different things so no matter what we’re going fight for them like crazy like we always do, and we’re going go and have our players’ backs. That’s what we’re all about and that’s all we can do and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

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Harrison, Matthews, Peppers To Meet With NFL

Steelers linebacker James Harrison and Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have agreed to meet with NFL investigators, sources tell ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. However, Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter) hears that free-agent linebacker Mike Neal has not yet agreed to an interview. The league threatened suspensions for all four players if they did not cooperate. The NFL has been pushing to meet with the quartet of notables after steroid allegations were made in an Al-Jazeera report.Julius Peppers (vertical)

Harrison has agreed to meet on August 29th at the team facility, though he says he will only answer questions concerning the segment of the documentary in which he was identified. It is not yet clear if the league will accept those conditions. It’s also not clear exactly when Matthews and Peppers will meet with investigators. The NFLPA will serve in an advisory capacity, even if they are not thrilled about the precedent the interviews may set.

On Tuesday, Harrison explained to reporters that he had serious reservations about the potential interview.

Somebody could come out and say James Harrison is a pedophile. They are going to suspend me, put me under investigation for being a pedophile just because somebody said it? I’m not going to answer questions for every little thing some Tom, Dick and Harry comes up with,” Harrison said.

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