Julius Peppers Remains in Packers’ Plans

Even though Julius Peppers has hinted at retirement, every indication is that both Julius Peppers and the Green Bay Packers are planning on being partners once again for the 2016 season.

It was an unusual move by the Green Bay Packers.  In fact very un-Ted like.  In 2014 general manager Ted Thompson signed a big name veteran free agent, who had been recently cut by the rival Chicago Bears, to a three year contract.  Welcome to the green and gold Julius Peppers.  Good bye to the dark side.

After the past season Peppers himself hinted that he may hang it up and retire prior to the 2016 season.  But should Peppers retire if he has something left in the tank?

Every indication is that both Julius Peppers and the Green Bay Packers are planning on being partners once again for the 2016 season.

Peppers signed with the Green Bay Packers almost two years ago on March 15, 2014. The deal was worth $30 million with $8.5 million in first year ($7.5 million guaranteed).  Peppers contract boiled down to a one-year contract if things hadn’t worked out.  The deal with the Packers didn’t impact the Packers compensatory picks in the 2014 draft as Peppers was released by his former club – no doubt a big plus in the mind of Ted Thompson who seems to value draft picks more than air itself.

Peppers signed with the Packers because he felt they had a good chance at winning the Super Bowl, a goal that Peppers was desperate to achieve.  Despite that fact the Packers run a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, Peppers was coming from a highly successful stint in a 4-3 and had never played in the 3 - 4.  At the time, head coach Mike McCarthy stated that Peppers would be used as a hybrid multiple-position player along the defensive front in a position the Packers have labeled "Elephant"  which translates to playing as a rush linebacker while alternating positions along the defensive line. 

Peppers closed out the 2014 season with some impressive stats: 29 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles, 7 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 2 defensive touchdowns, and an amazing 11 passes defensed.  Not bad for a converted defensive end.

This past year Peppers had another highly productive 2015 season recording 25 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, and a team high 10.5 sacks. He was also selected to his ninth Pro Bowl and was voted a team captain for the playoffs along with Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Chris Banjo, John Kuhn and Mason Crosby.

Complicating the decision is that Peppers carries the fourth highest cap number on the Packers roster at $10.5M.  If Peppers were to retire or be cut, his cap hit in 2016 would be $2.5M – the pro-rated portion of his signing bonus in the final year of his three-year contract. 

Although the team would welcome the additional cap space created with a Peppers exit they certainly don’t need it.  The salary cap increased to $155.27M this year and the Packers are flush with money sitting at over $22M in available cap room and almost all of their key players under contract for the upcoming season.

The Packers have said publicly that they want Peppers to return and expect him to be on the team during the 2016 season.  The decision to stay or retire will likely be Peppers alone to make. The guess here is that Peppers will finish his final contract year by returning to the club for the upcoming campaign.  Peppers can still be productive and Packers fans everywhere should welcome back the league’s 10th all-time sack-leader with open arms.

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Comments (7)

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zoellner25's picture

March 01, 2016 at 04:20 pm

He knows where his bread is buttered and where he has the best shot at a ring. Glad he'll return, although I hope they renegotiate.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 01, 2016 at 05:34 pm

Nah. Let him play this last year in GB and draft his replacement in May. That way, if Elliot turns into anything, it's a plus, not a need.

I always thought renegotiating with Wood after 09 was dumb - he had 2 years left on his contract and was up there for a DB. Sure enough, he signed an extension that made him a "Packer for life" - and also made his cap number unappealing for TT considering his declining speed. So he was cut after 2012. That always made me sad. He really could have signed a team friendly series of 1 year extensions after 2011 that would have been appealing for both sides.

Let Pep do the same. As long as he can play, he stays - at a reasonable dollar figure. He gets his best shot at a ring and we get a 3rd down pass rusher. When he can't play anymore or doesn't want to, we just don't extend: Win/win.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 01, 2016 at 06:39 pm

"The Packers have said publicly that they want Peppers to return"

Of course they do, they've only managed to draft one good OLB since moving to a 3-4, and you need two to play the scheme.

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Bearmeat's picture

March 01, 2016 at 07:23 pm

:(

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egbertsouse's picture

March 02, 2016 at 08:36 am

He's another one of TT's 4-3 defensive ends trying to fit in Caper's 3-4 scheme. If you want to keep these guys, go 4-3. Otherwise, let them go and start drafting some 3-4 guys.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

March 02, 2016 at 09:49 pm

Yeah it's not like he led the team in sacks or anything.

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Allan Murphy's picture

March 02, 2016 at 02:13 pm

Jayrone Elliott is his replacement when he's gone .

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