Before I start, I want to state that I am a huge Clay Matthews fan. Who doesn't love him in the Fathead commercials and his sack celebrations? With that being said, sports contracts shouldn't be about how much you like a player. At the end of the day, franchises are businesses and players should be viewed as assets/liabilities.
Matthews signed his new contract with $69.77 million in new money over the next six years, making him the NFL's higest paid linebacker. Matthews would have made $3.73 million this season before he signed his extension, but now he's making $22 million in 2013. Let's not forget the Packers are also working on a contract extension with Arron Rodgers, which may make him the highest paid quarterback in NFL history. The Packers are just eating away at their salary cap this season and it can only hurt them in the long run.
I'm not sure about anyone else but I'm a little worried when players who suffer injuries during the end of a season get front-loaded, long-term contracts that are worth an average of $13 million per year in new money.
I'm also worried about the way the NFL offensive game plans are changing. 2012 marked a season where the more successful, youthful teams were dedicated to having run heavy offenses and/or quarterbacks that are impossible to sack. Teams that come to mind are the Redskins, 49ers, Seahawks, Vikings, Ravens, and the Jets. I'm sure over the course of the next few years, the number of teams who are run heavy will go up as the rest of the struggling NFL teams try to keep up with the new speed trend. This destroys Clay Matthews ability to keep his sack numbers up, especially after suffering a hamstring injury last season.
Do I think Clay Matthews should have a contract extension with the Packers? Of course I do.
Is he worth about $20 million per year over the next two seasons while his team is about to spend the most amount of money a team has ever spent on a quarterback? No.
Is he worth a front-heavy contract when he had a hamstring injury towards the end of last season? No.
Is he worth a long-term contract in a league that's changing to make his core football strengths obsolete? I don't think so.
Does he deserve to be the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL? Maybe.
Am I still a huge Clay Matthews fan and hope he continues to have an amazing career? Yes, absolutely.