But even if that new deal doesn't occur before the 2013 season begins, Matthews' play will pay off with a dramatic increase in his initial salary.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Matthews has hit multiple escalators in his original contract and will play for a base salary of $3.73 million. Not bad, considering he was only scheduled to make $805,000 for 2013 when he signed the deal in 2009.
So, how did this happen? As the Journal Sentinel explains, “due to an escalator he earned through performance in '09, his base jumped to $1.492 million. Through another escalator, however, Matthews' base salary this season will increase by $2,238,000. That brings his base salary to $3.73 million and subsequently raises his salary cap number to $4.91 million.”
With his bump in salary, Matthews will have the ninth-highest salary cap number on the squad, but that figure (and Matthews' salary, for that matter) will increase whenever he signs a new deal. The paper estimates that Matthews probably will earn $25-$30 million in guaranteed money, and considering he's one of the top linebackers in the game, that's a pretty good guess.
If the Packers can't come to an agreement with Matthews before this time next season, it's a near-certainty they'd give him the franchise tag. But Green Bay also has other important players to worry about.
The team would do well to start stockpiling cash for the end of 2014 when the contract of Aaron Rodgers expires.
First, though, the Packers will have to figure out what to do with Matthews and if they want to make him the highest-paid linebacker in the game. In the end, they might not have a choice.
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