Aging Packers linebacker and former superstar Clay Matthews has renegotiated his contract with the team, saving millions. The Packers only had $23 million in available cap space and were able to add some necessary padding to that razor thin margin.
General Manager Ted Thompson shared his thought process in an exclusive interview with PackersForTheWin.com early this morning. “It’s a numbers game, that’s the reality of it. His sacks have decreased two years in a row. If he’s not getting sacks, he’s not worth it – what other value could he possibly have?”
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers supported the decision in our conference call with him. “We have a great secondary, but they can’t cover forever. The primary reason we gave up so many passing yards last year was because Clay couldn’t get home. He’s played both inside and outside linebacker with us, so it’s hard to even tell where to use him. No player is worth that headache.”
Matthews gave a press conference to a handful of prominent media members and seemed visibly distraught. “I’m just lucky to be here – to have…” he paused to dab his reddened eyes, take a deep breath, and clear his throat before continuing. “You never think it’s going to happen to you, but I saw the writing on the wall. It’s a young man’s game, it’s what have you done for me lately. I mean really, who can name a pass rusher that’s remained effective at age 30?”
Clay’s wife Casey rubbed his neck as the linebacker continued, tears streaming down his chiseled cheeks. “I would have to walk away with just the $55 million they’ve already paid me. Then I’d be left unemployed, looking for a new job. That’s a scary thought in an economy like this. I talked it over with Casey, and we agreed it was the right move for our family. Our kids need to eat, they may have to live on Ramen with this lower salary, but at least they’ll eat.”
I asked Clay if he felt he had options, if he could have said no when the Packers asked him to restructure his contract. His response was one of a defeated man, a desperate fool at the end of his pitiful rope. “I mean, who’s gonna sign a 6-time Pro Bowl pass rusher at age 30? I would have to replace my $10 million salary somewhere else. Ten million – that’s guard money, I could never get that anywhere else. Teams don’t just foolishly throw money around to free agents like that. I took the veteran minimum and I should really be happy to get it.”
It looks like the player is grateful and the team is happy. It’s a true win-win and other players in the locker room are sure to appreciate how responsible the team is acting in managing their finances. They must understand how important moves like this are to building a winning culture.
The funny thing is that this obvious, brilliant move may never have happened were it not for inspiration from an unlikely source.
Ted Thompson said that, even though the idea was pure genius, he didn’t think of it all on his own. “I’m not known for doing smart things like this, so it should come as no surprise that this really wasn’t my idea. I’d never thought of restructuring a deal until I started listening to sports radio – I didn’t even know it was an option! I mean his contract was front-loaded, so the savings wouldn’t even be that big, but the fans have been clamoring for this for weeks and they really understand the subtle inner workings of building a professional football team. Once I listened to their well thought out ideas on the air, I just realized how much it made sense – we had to do it. Once again, the fans were absolutely right.”