Matthews deal gives rise to old money vs. new money debate

AP

In recent weeks, as the Packers and linebacker Clay Matthews closed in on a new contract, some reported that Matthews will become the highest-paid linebacker in the game.

And now that he has signed a five-year, $66 million extension, many are proclaiming that Matthews, with an average of $13.2 million, has exceeded the prior high-water mark of $13 million set in 2009 by Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

The many are right, as long as the many ignore that Matthews still had one full year remaining on his current contract.  With a base salary for 2013 of $3.73 million, Matthews’ total haul will be $69.73 million over six years, which equates to an annual average of $11.62 million.

Ware, in contrast, received a six-year, $78 million deal in late October of the 2009 season.  While Ware was closer to the end of his deal when he got paid, Ware would have been a restricted free agent in the uncapped year of 2010.

While there’s no dispute that Matthews finagled a significant deal at a time when the market for free agents has dipped, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get duped into thinking that Matthews’ deal is better than it really is:  six years, $69.73 million.