Free agent Clay Matthews should join the Patriots
By: Jeremy Trottier
The New England Patriots have had arguably the most interesting and productive offseason in terms of signings. From players like Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to Matt Judon and Jalen Mills, they have truly upgraded their roster at most spots. With that said, they have a few holes they need to look to fill now, one of which being the linebacker spot. They do have some quality players here, in Matt Judon, Donta Hightower, and Kyle Van Noy, however in a 3-4 base defense they will need another, and with Chase Winovic as more of a Sam LB rather than an inside, the spot is open right now for LILB. In this article, I will be going over three reasons why the Patriots should look to bring in Clay Matthews.
The biggest thing Clay brings to the table is his football experience and knowledge, which he has gathered over the span of ten seasons in the NFL. With quite a few young linebackers on the roster such as Ja’Whaun Bentley, Josh Uche, Raekwon McMillan, and Chase Winovich, they could use a veteran in the room to teach them what he knows about schemes and playing the position.
We also know Bill Belichick likes his veterans, considering the large majority of the starters on the roster are 30+ years old. The style of the defensive scheme he runs with the 3-4 Fairbanks-Bullough would fit someone like a Clay Matthews very well, as he has played essentially every linebacker position so he could be plugged in wherever he is needed due to this.
Small Level Contract
Another reason the Patriots should consider signing Clay is that his contract will likely not be a large one at this point in his career, so it would not hugely impact their cap space. In 2019-2020 he had a two-year 9.25 million dollar contract, which comes out to 4.625 million per season on average. He was also guaranteed only 5.5 million of this contract, which is the true number we should be looking at in terms of contracts.
With that said, he is another year older, now at 34 years of age, and his production has been slightly declining, so contract wise they may be able to get him for near the veteran minimum near training camps. With free agency still being filled with a lot of quality players, some of the ones like Matthews will fall through the cracks and make for cheap quality signings.
The Patriots have already had an interest in bringing in Clay Matthews before, in fact, it was right around this time last offseason. Per an ESPN report by Jeremy Fowler, the Patriots had an interest in signing Clay before the 2020 NFL Draft, the exact quote being,
“There was some league-wide buzz that the Patriots considered signing free agent Clay Matthews for pass-rushing help, but that was before they landed outside linebacker Josh Uche out of Michigan in the second round, No. 60 overall.”
Obviously, if they can get both Matthews on board as well as Uche now that would be a huge benefit, and they have the cap space to do so as of right now. This would let them have Uche learn from Matthews and develop into that sort of role for the Patriots since they were already interested in doing so.