New Rams linebacker Clay Matthews had eyes on L.A. as he hit free company – NFL Nation

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Lindsey ThiryESPN

Shut Lined Rams for 2 years for Los Angeles Occasions
Beforehand coated the Falcons
Has coated the NBA and faculty soccer and basketball

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The highschool from which Clay Matthews graduated is 14 miles from the Los Angeles Rams’ coaching facility. USC, the place Matthews was a walk-on turned star, is a couple of extra miles in the other way. And the situation the place Matthews has been constructing his younger household’s residence makes for fast drive, even contemplating L.A. site visitors, to work day-after-day.

So when the veteran linebacker discovered after 10 seasons with the Inexperienced Bay Packers that he would want to discover a new staff to play for, Matthews knew precisely the place to look.

“I knew I wished to go L.A.,” Matthews stated Thursday. “And I put my agent accountable for getting me there.”

A go to to the Rams’ observe facility wasn’t crucial for Matthews, or the Rams, earlier than a deal was agreed to. The Rams had lengthy decided, as Matthews hit free company, that the veteran linebacker can be a match.

“His manufacturing and what he’s placed on movie all through the course of his profession speaks for itself,” Rams coach Sean McVay stated.

Clay Matthews, heart, is a six-time Professional Bowl choice. Greg Beacham/AP

The Rams signed Matthews, who made greater than $75 million all through his profession in Inexperienced Bay, to a two-year deal. Monetary phrases haven’t been disclosed.

A six-time Professional Bowl choice and one-time All-Professional, Matthews stated it made “excellent sense” to hitch a staff within the midst of a meteoric rise. The Rams are coming off a 13-Three season, a second consecutive division title and their first Tremendous Bowl look for the reason that 2001 season.

Matthews, who earned a Tremendous Bowl ring with the Packers following the 2010 season, is predicted to supply flexibility for the protection and veteran management.

“It’s an ideal match,” McVay stated.

In 10 seasons, Matthews has collected 83.5 sacks, 15 compelled fumbles and 6 interceptions, together with two returned for touchdowns. However regardless of his success, there’s some purpose for concern. At 32 years outdated, it’s doable the most efficient seasons of Matthews’ profession are behind him.

Final season, Matthews’ numbers fell to profession lows. He produced solely Three.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. However Matthews is fast to defend himself in opposition to any notion that his best days are previously.

“I do know I’ve the power to supply like I’ve accomplished earlier than,” Matthews stated. “To not make excuses, however there was some change final yr within the Packers group, and sadly, it didn’t work out for me. So far as shifting ahead, I do know I’m a difference-maker.”

Matthews additionally famous that final season, because the NFL strictly enforced a rule in opposition to roughing the passer, a number of would-be sacks as an alternative resulted in penalties.

“The league wasn’t very good to me early within the season,” Matthews stated, with a chuckle. “So let’s bump these numbers again up once more. Minimize me some slack.”

He joins a entrance that features two-time NFL Defensive Participant of the 12 months Aaron Donald. Matthews will lead a linebacking corps that options younger playmakers Dante Fowler Jr., who signed a one-year deal value as a lot as $12 million, and third-year professional Samson Ebukam.

Matthews excelled as an edge rusher, but additionally has expertise as an inside linebacker.

What it is advisable to know concerning the Los Angeles Rams:

» Rams’ free-agent signings
» Workforce wants: WR, DT, S
» Tracker: Newest strikes round NFL
» Full prime 100 free-agent ratingInsider

The Rams return inside linebacker Cory Littleton, who final season led the staff with 90 tackles and likewise intercepted three passes and returned one for a landing. However a gaping gap stays subsequent to Littleton after the Rams launched veteran inside linebacker Mark Barron to save lots of $6.33 million in salary-cap house. Barron has since signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Backup inside linebackers Ramik Wilson and Bryce Hager are unrestricted free brokers. As of now, second-year professional Micah Kiser — who principally performed particular groups final season — is penciled in because the starter.

The Rams will proceed to hunt options on the place by means of free company and the draft. However Matthews may permit for some flexibility.

“I count on my place to be fluid,” Matthews stated. “I’ll have a wide range of roles.”

“What he does at a particularly excessive degree is when he’s going ahead and attempting to have an effect on and affect the quarterback, dashing the quarterback, setting the sting within the run sport,” McVay stated. “You’ll see loads of that.”

Matthews is the fourth participant to signal with the Rams in free company, becoming a member of Fowler, security Eric Weddle and quarterback Blake Bortles.

Like Weddle, who grew up within the better Los Angeles space, Matthews emphasised his want to play for McVay. But it surely definitely helped, as Matthews enters his 11th season, that he returns residence.

“To be again right here now and to have the ability to play for the native soccer staff and have household and mates and be capable to begin our household right here and plant our roots right here is one thing that’s fairly superior,” Matthews stated.

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