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2019 Los Angeles Rams roster preview: LB Clay Matthews searches for the fountain of youth

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Does the 10-year veteran have any tread left on his tires?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Rams decided to sign 33 year-old LB Clay Matthews in free agency this offseason, many wondered how much the Green Bay Packers’ all-time sack leader had left in the tank.

It’s a fair question exacerbated by some errant initial reports of a deal in the $16.75m range; the Rams would later announce an incentive-laden two-year deal with just $5.5m guaranteed. Statistically, Matthews has been in a noticeable decline these last few years registering just 3.5 sacks in 2018.

Will a move west signal a late-career flourish for the Agoura Hills High / USC Trojan product? Surely the Rams will benefit from Matthews’ locker room presence and veteran savvy, but let’s hope he’s able to energize a pass rush that was at times anemic off the edge last season.

Roster Battle

Given that his role has been described as “fluid,” Matthews isn’t really battling for any specific slot on the depth chart. It’ll come down to usage as he figures to be in the mix with EDGE Samson Ebukam (roster preview) and EDGE Dante Fowler, Jr., and could see time inside at ILB in place of second-year ILB Micah Kiser (roster preview) on passing downs.

Expectations

Matthews is a pass rusher. Can he set the edge in the running game? Sure. Can he cover TEs in space? Presumably, yes. But the Rams didn’t bring him here to be an every-down player, and they will likely get the most impact (and mileage) out of him as a specialist in specific situations. We know DT Aaron Donald will continue to wreak havoc. If Fowler can improve this season, Matthews could see some easy opportunities to get after the quarterback. I’d be happy with six sacks and some sound football — both on the field and in the film room. Along with the addition of fellow savvy vet S Eric Weddle, Matthews should greatly increase the football IQ of this defense.

Plus, he brings excellent hair and once sang a Nelly Furtado song in a State Farm ad:

Chances of making the final roster (9/10)

Unless he’s somehow slipped a gear this offseason, the Rams will be happy to count on Matthews’ veteran presence in 2019.