Last week Clay Matthews III signed a new 5-year extension with the Packers that made him the highest paid linebacker in the history of the NFL. The press release announced that Matthews was awarded a $66 million extension that averages $13.2 million yearly, which just barely eclipses Dallas Cowboy outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware’s 2009 extension that averaged $13 million yearly. However, as the title has mentioned I personally don’t feel that the contract signed by Matthews is worth it. Furthermore, I’m a little surprised that so many Packers fans are okay with the deal.
What Packers fans should be doing is jumping up and down with joy.
For all intents and purposes, the Packers just got away with “grand theft Matthews”. While initially it looks like Matthews was rewarded handsomely for his services and now can claim to be the highest paid linebacker in NFL history, if you dive deeper into the structure of the deal, it’s pretty obvious that general manager Ted Thompson and lead contract negotiator Russ Ball really got the better end of the bargain.
Point 1 – Look at the guaranteed money: Most football fans recognize that they should take the value of a contract with a grain of salt. Case in point, Donovan McNabb showed exactly how an agent and team can cook the numbers in order to make a terrible contract look like a spectacular one. McNabb’s extension with the Redskins in 2010 was first reported to be worth $70 million ($40 million guaranteed) with escalators pushing it to $85 million. However, as it ultimately turned out, most of the guaranteed money was “not likely to be earned” (as I recall it involved McNabb’s field goal percentage and winning the Super Bowl every year), which in essence meant that McNabb’s actual guaranteed money was worth a piddling $3.5 million if he wasn’t on the Redskins roster past 2010 (naturally he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings before the end of the season). Perhaps the most important point I want to make is that a team’s true interest in a player is best represented by the amount of guaranteed money they offer; players almost always don’t see all the money in their contract and can only count on seeing their guaranteed money.