Super Bowl Champion LB Could Be Ideal Fit for Eagles

Clay Matthews, Packers Chargers Vegas odds, NFL lines week 6

GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 11: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers defends during the game against the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter at Lambeau Field on October 11, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Eagles’ best pass-rusher finished with 8.5 sacks in 2019. There is a free agent looking for work who recorded eight.

That’s right. Former Packers and Rams linebacker Clay Matthews was unceremoniously kicked to the curb on March 19 and he still hasn’t found a new home. It’s a tad surprising considering his body of work, plus the impact that Matthews made last season in Los Angeles. He started 13 games and racked up eight sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 37 total tackles (nine for loss). But the Rams are in cap hell and saved $3.75 million by cutting him.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are lost at the linebacker position. They invested two draft picks — third-rounder Davion Taylor and sixth-rounder Shaun Bradley — in the position and hope second-year man T.J. Edwards can carve out a niche. He has been garnering momentum as an early “breakout star” to watch. The other guys competing for linebacker snaps are Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Jatavis Brown and Dante Olson.

Matthews recently turned 34 years old but clearly showed he has plenty left in the tank. Is he a good fit for the Eagles’ scheme? Possibly. He’s not the traditional linebacker, more of a hybrid pass-rushing specialist (think Connor Barwin) than a run stopper in the middle. That’s OK. Philly needs help at edge rusher anyway.

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Bizarre History with the Philadelphia Eagles

Matthews was once the victim of a “cheap shot” during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The play happened back in 2016 after he was leveled by Eagles offensive lineman Allen Barbre. The hit forced the linebacker from the contest but X-rays later came back negative. No fines or penalties were issued.

“I wasn’t a fan of it,” Matthews told reporters, via USA Today. “I’ve got a lot more to say about it, but I’m going to say it behind closed doors. Cheap shot, but it is what it is. I ate it.”

There is also one other interesting wrinkle. The Eagles drafted Clay’s brother Casey in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The younger Matthews flamed out after four (mostly forgettable) seasons in Philly.

He was brought in by then-coach Chip Kelly due to his Oregon roots and was handed the starting job at middle linebacker. Casey started 16 games for the Eagles and finished with 114 combined tackles, plus 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He later went to the Minnesota Vikings but never played another snap.

How Much Would Clay Cost in Free Agency?

He had inked a two-year deal worth $9.25 million in Los Angeles before they released him. The average yearly base salary amounted to $4.6 million, per Spotrac. As mentioned above, the Rams saved about $3.75 million in cap space.

Matthews has taken action versus his former team by filing a grievance for $2 million in unpaid salary, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The money is owed to him for “unpaid guarantees.”

But his issue with the Rams wouldn’t be the Eagles’ problem. They could look to bring him in on a one-year “prove it” type of deal and offer him somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million per year. For a team desperate for a linebacker, that could be a steal.

Matthews is a proven veteran and winner: 11 NFL seasons, six Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl ring (2010 Packers). He has accumulated 91.5 sacks and 519 combined tackles (130 for loss), plus 200 jarring quarterback hits for his career.

Matthews has been linked to a few teams already in free agency, namely the Packers, Falcons and Cowboys. The latter would reunite him with Mike McCarthy, his Super Bowl-winning coach from Green Bay. Let’s add the Eagles to that short list. He’s worth a look.

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