Patient Green Bay fans have been rewarded. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Packers sign Julius Peppers to a three-year deal. Terms of the deal were just announced by Anderson via Peppers' agent.
Filed to ESPN: Agent Carl Carey adds Julius Peppers' 3-year deal to Green Bay is "for $30M max, $7.5M guaranteed & $8.5M in tot 1st yr sal."
— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) March 15, 2014
The Packers have finally found their replacement for Cullen Jenkins. The team's defensive line has struggled since Jenkins' departure in 2010. You only need to look at defensive tackle BJ Raji, who had more sacks in 2010 (6.5) with Jenkins next to him, than in the next three years combined (3.5). Peppers had a relatively quiet seven sacks last year, and amassed 37.5 sacks over his four years with the Bears.
The 6'7" Peppers could bookend Raji with last year's first-round pick Datone Jones (6'4"). Both provide the ability for the Packers to improve their pass rush while Raji occupies the interior of the line as a 330-lb run stuffer. Raji, who recently signed a one-year deal himself, also stands to benefit long-term as less offensive line attention on him will pad his stats and improve the offers he receives on the market next year.
Placing Peppers on the right side of the line would pair the lineman with outside linebacker Clay Matthews III, the Packers' only true sack producer over the past two years. The two are a potentially lethal combination, as teams won't be able to double-team both of them, and a single blocker on either is often not enough. Even if the duo can't get to the quarterback, the team should see more turnovers as a result of the pass rush. The team only had 11 interceptions last year, a number that's sure to rise as a result of less time in the pocket and more inaccurate passes from quarterbacks on the run.
News that the Packers sign Julius Peppers came across as a huge surprise this morning. However, with the defensive line and defensive backs now shored up pretty well, Thompson must turn his head to the Safety position early in the draft, and the inside linebacker position late in the draft.