On Saturday morning, Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers made a splash with the signing of recently released Chicago Bear and 34 year old defensive end, Julius Peppers.
The deal has been reported to be worth three years and up to $30 million with $7.5 million in guaranteed money.
In the grand scheme of things, the money shouldn’t be a problem if Peppers can do the freakishly athletic things he’s been able to do for most of his career.
The problem lies in whether Peppers is truly a fit for Green Bay’s 3-4 defense and/or whether he has enough left in the tank to make a difference in what was one of the leagues’ worst defenses in 2013?
Prior to leaving the Carolina Panthers in 2010, Peppers expressed interest in “challenging” himself in the 3-4 scheme. His career aspirations didn’t come to fruition as the Bears gave him an insane $84 million dollar contract to be a dominant defensive end in their 4-3 defense. All things considered, he fared pretty well in Chicago while starting all 64 games over the past four seasons and racking up 37.5 sacks.
Besides the unknown of how Peppers will play in the Packers 3-4 defense, he ultimately provides the team with an upgrade over the revolving door that played on the line last season. Peppers is extremely durable and gives the Packers someone who they know can play through pain.
Moreover, Peppers is reuniting with defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, who spent a ton of time with a young Peppers in Carolina. Together, they can help mentor Green Bay’s young defensive ends Mike Neal and Nick Perry. Not to mention the tips they can give Clay Matthews in order to make him an even more dominant pass rush specialist.
While optimists can conjure up a lot of good reasons why the Peppers deal was the right one for Ted Thompson as I have done, we could also use the other side to say why this move is extremely risky for Green Bay. Everyone and their mother knows that Thompson rarely makes a splash in free agency and for that reason, it’s common to say he’s not good at it.
His track record wouldn’t do much to change that opinion either as Charles Woodson in 2006 was the only deal that’s really worked out for Ted in free agency. Center Jeff Saturday and Defensive End Anthony Hargrove in 2009 were absolute disasters for the team.
Only time will tell to see if Thompson’s fourth real splash in to free agency will pay off.
One thing is for sure, the Packers rush defense couldn’t have been much worse than it was during the tail-end of last season. Just having Peppers’ length on the field will change that. Will it be worth the $8.5 million he makes in the first year though?
Let’s hope so.
What do you think of the Peppers’ signing? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Pictures obtained from twitter and flickr.com.Follow paulmbanks