Clay Matthews, Packers expected to reach long-term deal soon

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Clay Matthews is expected to receive a long-term deal from the Green Bay Packers in the near-future.

Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers are expected to receive lucrative contract extensions from the Green Bay Packers this offseason, and NFL.com's Ian Rapoport believes a deal for Matthews is "real close."

Matthews is expected to receive a contract extension worth more than what the Dallas Cowboys gave DeMarcus Ware, per Rapoport. The average annual value is expected to be around $13 million.

Dallas gave Ware a six-year contract extension during the 2009 season worth $78 million including $40 million in guaranteed money. Matthews is currently entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract and is set to earn a base salary of $3.7 million in 2013. If the Packers and Matthews reach a deal, Matthews will likely see a dramatic pay increase for the upcoming season.

Green Bay selected Matthews out of USC in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft with the No. 29 overall pick. Matthews has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons as a professional and has twice been named an All-Pro. Matthews was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 as well and helped lead the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV.

Matthews was named to the second team All-Pro in 2012 despite being limited to just 12 games played. In those 12 games, Matthews recorded 43 tackles and 13 sacks, nearly matching his career-high in sacks of 13.5 set in 2010.

Matthews is undoubtedly the heart of Green Bay's defense and easily Green Bay's most irreplaceable defensive player. The Packers' defense has struggled the last two years, leading to exits in the Divisional round of the NFC playoffs -- but Matthews is not to blame.

Without Matthews, Green Bay's defense would go from pedestrian to dismal. The Packers would be well served to lock up their soon-to-be 27-year-old star linebacker.

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