Free Agency Rapid Reaction – DE Julius Peppers
The prodigal son has returned. No, not that savior. The Panthers original savior, Julius Peppers.
After a very unceremonious departure from the Panthers in 2010, one that many fans haven’t forgot, he’s back. Despite being offered the richest defensive contract in NFL history, Peppers opted to pack his bags and take his talents to Chicago. As a fan, I was hurt by these actions. But I get it, he was in one state for his entire life. He grew up in Wilson. For the next three years, he went to college in Chapel Hill. Then finally, he was drafted by the Panthers and spent eight years in Charlotte. People grow up and outgrow where they are from. I think that was the case with Peppers. But after he left, he decided to throw as much shade as he could at the Panthers. From team owner, Jerry Richardson, calling him out as a leader at Mike Minters retirement, all the way to fans. Nobody in Charlotte was safe from his criticism. But after seven season away, mostly all is forgiven.
I must admit, I wasn’t big on the idea of bringing Peppers back. Purely because I wasn’t sure what kind of player he was at this point in his career. After looking at his stats over the last three season, you realize the he still has some tread on the tires. Over those three season in Green Bay, he racked 25.5 sacks. That’s very solid production, especially for a player of his advanced age. Peppers also finished 17th in PFF’s rankings of outside pass rushers. Any way you slice it up, Peppers can still impact the game. If the Panthers use Peppers as a situational pass rusher and not as an every down player, he can have that impact.
How about that contract, they over pair, right? Nope, Peppers was signed to a very team friendly deal, 1yr/$3.5m. It is a bit surprising that it’s only a one year deal. But if the Panthers and Peppers both have a great year, don’t be surprised to see him stick around for one more run.
And the first-time he takes down Matt Ryan or Drew Brees, all will truly be forgiven.
Welcome home, Julius.