Ted Thompson didn’t make many big free agency moves as general manager of the Green Bay Packers, but in 2014 he hit a home run.
Julius Peppers had already put together a Hall-of-Fame career before signing a three-year deal with the Green Bay Packers at 34 years old. The big question was whether he’d be able to play at a high level consistently in Green Bay.
The fact the Packers kept him for all three years says it all.
Peppers made seven sacks in his first season in Green Bay, forced four fumbles and also made two interceptions, returning both for touchdowns.
We all remember Green Bay’s heartbreaking defeat to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game that year, but without Peppers the Packers may have never even made it that far.
Not only did he make a number of big plays throughout the season, but he also forced a game-changing fumble in the divisional round against the Dallas Cowboys. Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had a clear path to the end zone which would’ve put the Packers in real trouble, but Peppers was able to punch the football out and create a much-needed turnover.
Peppers continued to produce in the next two seasons, finishing with 10.5 sacks in 2015 and 7.5 in 2016. The Packers returned to the NFC title game in his final season.
With a total of 159.5 career sacks, Peppers announced his decision to retire earlier this offseason. The Packers haven’t been able to replace him since he left in free agency two years ago.
General manager Brian Gutekunst will be hoping he can sign a player who will have a similar impact this offseason. With just over $35 million in cap room available, according to Over The Cap, Green Bay should once again be active in free agency like last year.
Peppers was one of Ted Thompson’s best free agency signings. Can Gutekunst find a difference-maker on defense in free agency this offseason?