StaTuesday: Matthews closing in on Packers' sack record

When Ted Thompson traded back into the first round of the 2009 NFL draft to select Clay Matthews, he of course expected the Green Bay Packers were getting a solid, long-term player.

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What Thompson didn't know at the time was he had just selected someone who would turn out to be the Packers' all-time leader in sacks.

Matthews, now in his ninth season in Green Bay, is on the precipice of being crowned with that achievement. After recording 1.5 sacks this past Sunday night against Atlanta, Matthews just one-half sack away from tying for the lead and one momentous quarterback takedown from being No. 1.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who played for the Packers from 2000-08, is Green Bay's current sack master, with 74.5. Among the top-10 sack artists in Packers history, Matthews is third in sacks per game behind just Tim Harris and Reggie White (Harris actually is .002 ahead of White) and just ahead of Tony Bennett (by .001).

PLAYER GAMES SACKS SCK/G
Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila 124 74.5 .60
Clay Matthews 115 74 .64
Reggie White 95 68.5 .72
Tim Harris 76 55 .72
Aaron Kampman 112 54 .48
Ezra Johnson 148 50 .34
Tony Bennett 56 36 .64
Bryce Paup 64 32.5 .51
Vonnie Holliday 66 32 .48
Cullen Jenkins 93 29 .31

It of course should be noted that the sack didn't become an official statistic until 1982. However, there wasn't as much player movement either due to the lack of free agency, but on the other hand teams didn't pass nearly as much pre-1982, and thus there were fewer opportunities for a sack.

The lack of opportunity is not the case nowadays.

While he is poised to be Green Bay's all-time sack leader, Matthews ranks 10th among active players, although his .64 sacks per game is fifth among those 10. (Note: All figures through Week 2; Tamba Hali is currently on Kansas City's PUP list.)

PLAYER GAMES SACKS SCK/G
Julius Peppers 236 146 .62
Terrell Suggs 199 117.5 .59
Elvis Dumervil 148 99 .67
Tamba Hali 172 89.5 .52
James Harrison 188 81.5 .43
Cameron Wake 117 81.5 .70
J.J. Watt 85 76 .89
Von Miller 90 75.5 .84
Cliff Avril 138 74 .54
Clay Matthews 115 74 .64

Perhaps Matthews is returning to his heyday, when he had double-digit sacks in four of his first six seasons. Playing more at inside linebacker the past two years didn't help his cause, as he posted some of his worst sack-per-game totals of his career.

YEAR GAMES SACKS SCK/G
2009 16 10 .63
2010 15 13.5 .90
2011 15 6 .40
2012 12 13 1.1
2013 11 7.5 .69
2014 16 11 .69
2015 16 6.5 .41
2016 12 5 .42
2017 2 1.5 .75

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth's Shadow, Facing Ted Williams -- Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns