There has been a lot of movement in free agency thus far to kick off the 2020 NFL season. Just two years removed from the Super Bowl, the Rams have been one of the biggest players shedding expensive veteran contracts.
According to ESPN's Lindsey Thiry, the Rams released running back Todd Gurley and linebacker Clay Matthews on Thursday afternoon to help create much needed cap space. By releasing Gurley, they avoided paying him an additional $10.5 million guaranteed in 2020 and 2021.
When the Rams went public with the news, Gurley tweeted a classic line from Ice Cube's hit film Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he reportedly had struck a deal with the Falcons, quickly ending the discussion about him potentially joining the Seahawks.
Per ESPN's Field Yates, the Rams used a post-June 1 designation releasing Gurley, which means the Rams will spread the dead cap charges ($11.75 million) over two seasons. They will also see some cap relief to the tune of $5.5 million on June 2.
As for Matthews, he will immediately start fielding offers for his next landing spot. Could it be in Seattle as a reunion with his former college coach Pete Carroll?
Even after re-signing Jarran Reed and bringing back Bruce Irvin, the Seahawks still desperately need to improve their pass rush. Along with trying to retain Jadeveon Clowney, the team also inquired about veteran edge rusher Everson Griffen, who opted out of his contract last month with the Vikings, as well as Ravens edge rusher Matt Judon, who was recently hit with the franchise tag worth $15.828 million.
Though he missed three games with a broken jaw, Matthews enjoyed a stellar season with the Rams in 2019, producing 37 tackles, 8.0 sacks, and 11 quarterback hits. He also forced two fumbles and swatted away three passes.
Reflecting on their time together at USC, Carroll admitted in an interview back in 2015 that he made a mistake while at USC by underestimating the upside of Matthews' game.
"Maybe because of the way he came up, it took him a long time to develop," Carroll explained, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "And didn't recognize the great heart that he had, and unbelievable competitiveness and the great savvy that he demonstrates now. It's really one of my big misses. I should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did. He made the rest of its history and been an extraordinary player ever since."
While coaching him at USC, Carroll saw Matthews as a great special teams player during his first three years in a Trojans uniform. During that time, he gained 50 pounds in muscle, eventually becoming a starter as a senior and eventually being drafted by the Packers with the No. 26 overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Fast forwarding 12 years later, Matthews will turn 34 years old in May and hasn't been to the Pro Bowl since 2015. Dating back to his time with the Packers, he's not necessarily a popular player in the Pacific Northwest either.
But he remains a productive player capable of turning up the heat on opposing quarterbacks and his past connection with Carroll could make him a seamless fit into Seattle's defense. If he's racking up sacks, fans will quickly forget about their disdain towards him.
Likely available at an affordable rate, the four-time Pro Bowler would provide leadership alongside Bobby Wagner and could replace K.J. Wright if the Seahawks decide to part ways. If they do bring in Matthews, it would also give Carroll a chance to rectify one of his biggest regrets from his tenure coaching at USC.