Star sack-master Julius Peppers signed with the Green Bay Packers Saturday on a three year deal for up to $30 million max. Peppers will earn $7.5 million guaranteed and $8.5 million as first year salary.
Despite this move possibly contradicting GM Ted Thompson’s free agency feelings of only window shopping, this is a pleasant surprise to “Cheeseheads”. It’s just what Dom Capers’ defense needs; a veteran presence who knows how to pressure while others on the line are still learning.
The former second pick overall by the Carolina Panthers in 2002 has been known as the anchor to the best defensive line in the league for years. He’s been chasing Aaron Rodgers for the past four years as a rival Chicago Bear. You know what they say, if you can’t beat em, join em.
After being cut by the Bears, Peppers must’ve thought about the best situation to win a ring. He came close in 2003 as a Panther but fell short to Tom Brady and the Patriots. This move might seem risky because of Peppers’ age. But both sides can really help each other.
The 34 year old is still a beast who wreaks havoc in the trenches. At 6’7 and 287 lbs, he’s the total package of size, speed, strength. His career stats speak for themselves: Defensive Rookie of the Year, 8 Pro Bowls, Defensive Player of the Year, 558 career tackles, 119 sacks, 9 interceptions, and 39 forced fumbles.
What has he done lately? Peppers recorded 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, an interception, and a Touchdown last year. So he’s not over the hill, is he injury prone? Peppers has played every game of the season the last six years.
The only catch, which is more exciting to watch then speculate, is Peppers fit in Capers’ 3-4 scheme. Peppers has played as a 4-3 defensive end his entire career. Experts say it’s a bad idea to sign a free agent and change his game. I don’t think those experts meant those words for Julius Peppers.
He’s a pure athlete who can dominate from any angle. Peppers can bull rush inside, speed rush outside, stuff holes, and play coverage. He’s savvy and athletic enough to play with or without his hand in the ground. It’ll be interesting to see him in zone blitz combos next to B.J. Raji and Datone Jones. Imagine having to block all that along with Clay Matthews. Using this talent to their advantage, Capers can plug Peppers and Clay on the same side making it impossible to double-team both. Julius Peppers is a hybrid football player. Whatever scheme, get him on the field. Ultimately, the only question left is, “what number will he wear?”
For some reason, this move shocked the world but also seems familiar. The Packers’ Super Bowl seasons were possible with defensive playmakers putting the Pack over the top. Remember, Reggie White…Charles Woodson…Julius Peppers…that sounds right.