According to Green Bay Packers ESPN Reporter Rob Demovsky, Julius Peppers’ days with the Packers are numbered.
In a breakdown article of the Packers’ linebacker situation, Demovsky said Peppers “appears to be done in Green Bay.”
With Peppers set to enter his 16th season at 37 years-old and his deal set to expire in a matter of days, this is hardly a hot take. Peppers originally signed with Green Bay on a three-year, $26 million deal in 2014, looking to pad a borderline Hall of Fame resume at the time. A handful of sacks and a Super Bowl victory were sure to do just that.
Three years later, Peppers totaled 25 regular season sacks to bring him to fifth on the all-time sack list with 143.5. He trails only Bruce Smith (200), Reggie White (198), Kevin Greene (160) and Chris Doleman (150.5) on the all-time sack list.
However, Peppers fell short of what was certainly another major goal of his in signing with division foe Green Bay after four years with the Chicago Bears, winning a Super Bowl. The Packers have made two Conference Championship game appearances but have failed to make the Super Bowl.
The feeling of ‘this worked, but not as well as we had hoped’ has to be mutual between Peppers and the Packers. Due in part to the emergence of Nick Perry in 2016, Peppers snaps fell to 58.3% of when the defense was on the field this season according to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The greatest asset any NFL player has is availability, and Peppers appears to be losing his.
Without a noticeable drop-off in sack totals, Peppers lived up to his contract. The biggest obstacle to a new deal might very well be the need to pay younger, more effective players at Peppers’ position. Among the Packers free agents are Perry and Datone Jones, who are unrestricted free agents and can sign with any team.
Also in need of new deals are Jordan Tripp, Jayrone Elliot and Joe Thomas, who will not command lucrative money but are undoubtedly looking for some financial security.
For Green Bay, another deal in the neighborhood of $8.5 million a year for Peppers would be a significant cap hit for a player certainly not getting any younger. The Packers may also want to hang on to a player like Perry and make sure there are snaps for him if they do resign him.
For Peppers, the Hall of Fame awaits regardless, and at best he moves up to third on the all-time sack last with two more productive seasons. And for a player that has made his millions over 15 years in the NFL, the only remaining incentive is a Super Bowl ring. Now would not be the time to be stingy for his agent, as a Dwight Freeney or Chris Long-type pay-cut to help out a contending team seems much more realistic.
Should the Packers extend an offer to Peppers and for how much? Let me know in the comments below.