Packers Reportedly Close to Extensions with Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews
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If there is one thing Green Bay Packers fans should be rooting for this offseason it's getting long-term contract extensions completed with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and outside linebacker Clay Matthews,—which, according to a post by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, is something that's expected to be done sooner rather than later.
Dunne reports that now that the Packers have finalized a deal for Brad Jones, restructured the contract of A.J. Hawk and reaffirmed Jermichael Finley's status for the 2013 season, the stage is set for the long-awaited deals to finally be completed.
Green Bay still has $18 million in cap space and have been negotiating with both Rodgers and Matthews since the combine. Dunne speculates that all but a few details have been hammered out and both deals are very close to finally being done.
The NFL free-agency frenzy always generates buzz and gives fans hope, even if their teams are coming off lousy seasons. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement as big-name players get signed to big money deals—meaning it can be difficult to watch as your favorite team stands by and seemingly does very little to improve.
This if often the case for Packers fans, as Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson rarely gets involved in free agency, preferring as always to invest his money into his own home-grown talent.
For Green Bay, nothing has changed.
The Packers have kicked the tires on a few free agents this offseason (Steven Jackson, Chris Canty, Cullen Jenkins, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Huff) but have failed to show any significant interest in signing any free agents. The team did show interest in re-signing wide receiver Greg Jennings, but in the end refused the pay as much for his services as the Minnesota Vikings did.
Green Bay did re-sign Jones and fellow linebacker Rob Francois, but has yet to make any moves that could be considered game-changing. Yet, this is for a reason.
The Packers don't want to be in a position where they have to sign and overpay for free agents. Teams that do that need to do so for one reason or another, usually covering up for a previous personnel mistake such as a bad draft pick or bad free-agent signing.
The Packers do things the old-fashioned way. They build their team through the NFL draft. They develop and cultivate their talent, then invest big-money contracts into their own players like they will soon do with Rodgers, Matthews and later B.J. Raji.
Teams should not go looking for difference makers on the free agent market because to be frank, they are not going to find them.
Players reach free agency for a reason, whether it be age, decine in skill set, etc. At the end of the day, though, the truth is this: Elite players rarely if ever hit the free-agent market, so teams paying elite money for aging, overrated players often find themselves disappointed (just ask the Eagles how the Nnamdi Asomugha deal worked out).
Fortunately, the Packers are blessed with two of the NFL's elite players at the game's most important positions. Obviously, quarterback is the most important position, and the Packers have possibly the game's best player there in Rodgers. Matthews, who dominates as a pass-rusher off the edge, is as good as any defensive player in pro football.
The combination of Rodgers and Matthews is the main reason why the Packers are in a position to contend for the Super Bowl year in and year out. Simply look at the 47-17 record since Matthews' arrival in 2009 that also boasts four consecutive playoff berths, two division titles and a Super Bowl following the 2010 season.
Green Bay doesn't spend money in free agency because it doesn't need to—and as long as the Packers keep hitting home runs in the draft and keep taking care of their own, it won't need to anytime soon, which should be a comforting thought to Packers fans everywhere.
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