Clay Matthews agrees to two-year contract with Rams
A football career that began at Agoura High, continued at USC and included 10 seasons and a Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers, is coming full circle to the Southland.
Matthews, who will turn 33 in May, is a six-time Pro Bowl player who has amassed 83 ½ sacks. Last season, he had a career-low 3 ½ sacks in the final year of a contract that paid him $10.4 million, according to overthecap.com.
Tuesday night, Matthews tweeted a photo that showed him in a superimposed Rams uniform with the hashtag “#NewProfilePic.”
Matthews is the latest addition to a defense that is being overhauled despite limiting the New England Patriots to a touchdown in a 13-3 Super Bowl defeat.
The Rams signed veteran safety Eric Weddle to replace Lamarcus Joyner, who signed with the Oakland Raiders. They resigned edge-rusher Dante Fowler but released linebacker Mark Barron, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Matthews is expected to provide a veteran edge-rushing presence to a linebacker corps that includes Fowler and third-year pro Samson Ebukam. Middle linebacker Cory Littleton is a restricted free agent who received a second-round tender from the Rams for $3.1 million.
Matthews grew up in Agoura Hills, about 15 minutes from the Rams’ Thousand Oaks practice facility. His father, Clay Matthews Jr., was an All-American linebacker at USC and four-time Pro Bowl player. His uncle, Bruce Matthews, was an All-American offensive lineman at USC and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Matthews began his USC career as a walk-on in 2004. He earned a scholarship before the 2006 season, and in 2008 emerged as a star player for a defense that also included linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga.
Matthews was drafted 26th overall by the Packers in 2009. During the 2010 NFL season, he recorded a career-best 13 ½ sacks for a Packers team that defeated the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
The addition of Matthews came a day after the Rams signed quarterback Blake Bortles to back up Jared Goff.
The Rams had more business to consider on offense Tuesday.
Running back Malcolm Brown, a restricted free agent who served as Todd Gurley’s primary backup the last two seasons, signed an offer sheet with the Detroit Lions. Terms were not disclosed, but the Rams have five days to match the offer or lose Brown.
Brown, 25, played in college at Texas and signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2015, the same year they selected Gurley with the 10th overall pick. Brown, also a special teams standout, received an original-round tender of just over $2 million from the Rams. Unlike a first- or second-round tender, there is no compensation for teams that lose players with original-round tenders.
The 5-foot-11, 222-pound Brown rushed for 212 yards in 12 games last season before suffering a season-ending clavicle injury on Dec. 2 against the Lions at Detroit. The Rams signed running back C.J. Anderson after a loss the next week against the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which Gurley required medical attention for his left knee.
Anderson rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games. He played the majority of snaps in the NFC championship game victory over the New Orleans Saints, and also had a significant role in the Super Bowl.
Anderson is an unrestricted free agent. He has said that he would like to return to the Rams but would test the market.
“He did prove that when Todd was out, that wait a minute, he can keep the offense in rhythm, maybe not explosive as Todd in terms of let’s call it the long gains and things like that,” Rams general manager Les Snead said last week. “We also felt like Malcolm Brown potentially could have done the same thing that C.J. did, it’s just he went out… and we never got to see that.”
Third-year pro Justin Davis and second-year pro John Kelly are other running backs on the roster.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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