It appears as though All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews will remain a Green Bay Packer for the foreseeable future, as he signed a long-term extension today, according to the Packers' official Twitter feed.
Darren Rovell reports that the deal is front loaded, paying Matthews more money now than it will later on.
Matthews tweeted a photo of himself signing the contract on Wednesday.
The Packers' defensive leader was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2013 season, but that is obviously no longer the case. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is likely next on the agenda, as he will reach free agency following the 2014 season.
Matthews' yearly salary of $13.2 million puts him just ahead of Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who earns an average of $13 million, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Much of the praise heaped on the Packers over the past few years has been directed toward Rodgers and the offense. That is certainly understandable, as Green Bay has boasted one of the most potent offenses in the league over that time.
With that said, the Packers defense was a huge reason why they won Super Bowl XLV, and its decline is a huge reason why Green Bay hasn't made it back to the Super Bowl since. Matthews has done his part, though, and it was extremely important for the Packers to lock him up.
Matthews has racked up double-digit sacks in three of his four NFL seasons, including 13 in just 12 games last season. The Packers don't have much aside from Matthews when it comes to players who can get to the quarterback, so re-signing him was obviously a top priority.
The offense is going to be key for the Packers in their pursuit of another Super Bowl this year and in the future, but Matthews will spearhead a defensive unit that needs to get better as a whole.
Green Bay will have plenty of tough competition in the NFC over the next few years, as the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins all have a great mix of young talent and established veterans.
Most of them also have fantastic quarterbacks, which is where Matthews will come into play. Defensive shortcomings can be compensated for with a ferocious pass rush, and Matthews is arguably the best rush linebacker in the game right now.
He is set to be paid accordingly, and the Packers and their fans have to be happy that "The Predator" will remain in the fold for years to come.
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