Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 4/17/13
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews has signed a contract extension with the Green Bay Packers. "Trivial amongst the recent tragic news, but happy to continue my career in Green Bay!" Matthews tweeted Wednesday afternoon, along with a picture of him signing his new contract. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is reporting that Matthews' deal could be in the 13 million range annually. The Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware has been the highest-paid linebacker in the league at 13 million per year. Before re-signing, Matthews, 26, had one year left on his rookie contract for 3.7 million and would have then been a free agent in the 2014 offseason. Of course, the Packers were never going to let Matthews get away. Green Bay traded up in the 2009 draft to select Matthews with the 26th overall pick. A former walk-on at the University of Southern California, he made an immediate impact in the NFL, finishing with 10 sacks as a rookie. In Matthews' second season, his 13.5 sacks were the fourth-most in the NFL. In the playoffs that year, Matthews added 3.5 more sacks to help the Packers reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997. Though he didn't record a sack in Green Bay's Super Bowl XLV win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, he did force a fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter with the Packers clinging to a four-point lead. By Matthews' third year, defenses had started to adjust to him and Green Bay's scheme as a whole. Matthews had only six sacks and the Packers finished last in the league in total defense. Last season, Matthews matched his 2011 sack production in just two games. Though he missed four consecutive games late in the season with a hamstring injury, Matthews still had 13 regular-season sacks. He added three more sacks in Green Bay's two postseason games. The Packers are trying to build the rest of their defense around Matthews. However, the team has yet to find another player capable of taking some of the pressure off Matthews. Green Bay's second-best sack producer last season (Mike Neal) only had 4.5 sacks. Outside linebacker Nick Perry was drafted by the Packers in the first round in 2012 with the hope that he could team up effectively opposite Matthews. However, in the six games in which Perry was healthy as a rookie, he only had two sacks and ended up splitting snaps with Erik Walden. Green Bay had nearly 18 million available in 2013 cap space prior to re-signing Matthews, but general manager Ted Thompson needed that money to make this deal possible, as well as extending the contract of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay is expected to extend Rodgers' contract, too, in the coming days. Follow Paul Imig on Twitter.
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