Julius Peppers is the fifth greatest free agent signing in Green Bay Packers history.
This is part one of a five-part retrospective by Michael Seney and I, as we look back on the greatest free agent signings in Green Bay Packers history.
At No. 5 is Julius Peppers.
5. Julius Peppers, Defensive end
Before Green Bay
Peppers entered the league in 2002, when he was drafted with the second overall pick by the Panthers. He lived up to all the pre-draft hype in his rookie year with 12 sacks.
The following season, Peppers and his team made it to the Super Bowl. Peppers put heavy pressure on Tom Brady the whole game. The Panthers lost that game but Peppers played extremely well.
Peppers played eight seasons with Carolina and made it to five Pro Bowls. Before the 2010 season, Peppers signed a six-year contract with the Bears worth $91.5 million, with $42 million guaranteed in the first three years. That season, Chicago made it to the NFC Championship Game but lost to Green Bay. Peppers played with Chicago until 2014, when he was released after attempts to trade him failed.
In Peppers’ last game as a Bear, he had a chance to send his team to the playoffs. It was Week 17 and the Packers and Bears would play for a trip to the postseason. The Packers were losing by one point and faced fourth-and-8 at the Green Bay 48-yard line. Most of you know what happened next: Aaron Rodgers found Randall Cobb for the game winning touchdown. But if you watch closely, you will see that Peppers almost sacked Rodgers to end the game.
Heading to Green Bay
After that, the Bears released him after attempts to trade him failed. He signed a three-year deal with Green Bay. He said he believed that his best chance to win a championship was with Green Bay.
Over those three years, they went to two NFC Championship Games. He recorded 25 sacks, 61 tackles and two touchdowns (yes he even did two Lambeau Leaps). Peppers established himself as a leader of the defense and maintained his name as one of the most intimidating forces on the field.
His tackle and strip of Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray in the 2014 divisional round game prevented Dallas from scoring and possibly winning. In the 2016 wild-card game, Peppers came up with a pivotal sack on QB Eli Manning late in the game to help secure a win.
The Packers sadly did not win a Super Bowl in Peppers’ time, but his impact on the team as leader and a mentor is his green and gold legacy.