If the return of Clay Matthews, a Southern California-bred USC alumnus, to Los Angeles to play football in 2019 sounded to you like a perfect, obvious fit, you weren't alone. Matthews thought the same exact thing.
"As soon as my chance to return to Green Bay was kind of past me, I knew I wanted to come to the Rams," Matthews said at his introductory press conference Thursday. "I put it on my agent and I put it on these guys here to try and get something done. Fortunately, the feeling was mutual and they were receptive to the idea. Talked with [linebackers coach] Joe Barry, as well as [Rams coach] Sean [McVay] to see how I fit within the defense and it seemed like a perfect fit."
Matthews was set free by the Packers this offseason after 10 seasons in Green Bay. The 32-year-old Northridge-area native signed a two-year deal worth up to $16.75 million with the Rams during the second wave of free agency. Matthews reportedly had more lucrative offers on the table, but he and his family couldn't resist returning to L.A.
"From a football standpoint, it makes perfect sense," Matthews told reporters. "But for me personally, where I'm at with my career, having grown up in the area, living 20 minutes away from here, it made sense."
The linebacker added during his presser that the region has not been foreign to him since Green Bay drafted him in 2009. Matthews has trained in Los Angeles every offseason since entering the league and is building a house in the area.
As Matthews intimated, his addition to the Rams makes good football sense to him, too. The reigning NFC champions struggled to develop an edge rush for most of last season before acquiring Dante Fowler, who they re-signed to a one-year deal as well this offseason. Matthews, who has played outside and inside linebacker over the course of his career, believes he can make a difference on the edge in L.A.
"I expect my position to be fluid. I'll have a variety of roles," Matthews said. "But the most important thing is pressing the quarterback, making him make bad decisions and keeping the heat and keeping the pressure on him."
"Our systems are always adapted to our players' strengths and when you have a player that has that versatile skill set, you can utilize him in a variety of ways," McVay said of Matthews. "I think obviously what he does at an extremely level is when he's trying to go forward and affect and influence the quarterback, setting the edge in the run game, so I think you'll see a lot of that. When you get into some of those known passing situations, you can get creative with where you move him around."
It remains to be seen how much of a factor Matthews will play in Wade Phillips' defense. The LB is joining a corps currently populated by starters Cory Littleton and Samson Ebukam. Matthews was on the field for 71 percent of Green Bay's defensive snaps in 2018, logging 43 total tackles and a career-low 3.5 sacks.
Regardless of how much playing time he gets or what role he plays, Matthews promised to bring the same energy and play that propelled Green Bay to eight consecutive postseason appearances and a Super Bowl title in his time there.
"I look forward to showing to everybody here, you guys, the fans," Matthews concluded, "that what you saw these past 10 years is what you'll get these next two."