For his first five seasons with the Packers, Clay Matthews was an outside linebacker who made a lot of big plays on the edge of the defense.
In 2014, though, Matthews began seeing time at inside linebacker and it was his primary role in Green Bay this season. Matthews adapted to the position, but didn’t have the same impact on games that he did when playing on the outside. That would explain why coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday that he wants to put Matthews back where he belongs next season.
“My goal with Clay is to play outside linebacker,” McCarthy said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I think it shows the type of player Clay is to go inside and play as much as he did really full time there. The matchup part of it was really always my goal. There’s things he does at that position that he’ll continue to do. He’s an outside linebacker and we need to get back to him playing there and just playing inside when needed.”
Moving Matthews back outside will have impact on several decisions the Packers make this offseason. Outside linebackers Mike Neal and Nick Perry are unrestricted free agents and the team is on the thin side beyond Matthews at inside linebacker, which is a big reason why they had him there in the first place.
Julius Peppers’ status is also something to watch as he said he’s “not sure” about returning next season. Peppers, who had 10.5 sacks in the regular season and one in the loss to the Cardinals, is signed for next season at a base salary of $7 million.