Updates from Tuesday, Mar. 11
The Chicago Bears have officially parted ways with defensive end Julius Peppers:
LM: #Bears have informed DE Julius Peppers they are terminating his contract.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 11, 2014
In a last-ditch effort before likely cutting ties, the Chicago Bears are seeing if there is any trade interest in Julius Peppers around the league.
The newest rumor comes from ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Bears calling around the league, seeing if they can find a trade partner for DE Julius Peppers, per sources. Trade unlikely...— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2014
Peppers, 34, is a generational talent and a Hall of Fame-caliber player. He has tallied 119 sacks, 39 forced fumbles and 558 combined tackles in his 12-year career.
During his prime, he was one of the most dangerous players in the league, forcing teams to alter their game plans to account for him. But he's not in his prime anymore.
In 16 games with the Bears last season, Peppers tallied 7.5 sacks, his lowest mark since 2007. Moreover, Pro Football Focus graded him negatively, and as CSN's Michael Giardi pointed out, he got to the quarterback less than one time per game:
Julius Peppers got to the QB 13 times last year: 7 sacks, 6 QB hits. Added 27 hurries according to @PFF— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 10, 2014
Peppers can still play a valuable role as a pass-rusher, but it's hard to find a roster spot for him when he has a base salary of $13.9 million and a cap hit of over $18 million in 2014, per Spotrac.com.
ESPN's Michael C. Wright speculated on the situation:
I'm just speculating on Peppers. But w/an $18.183M cap figure, teams aren't in a hurry to jump on that. Trade talk usually leads 2 cutting.— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) March 10, 2014
CBS Chicago's Adam Hoge put it bluntly:
I’d say the chances of the #Bears successfully trading Julius Peppers is 0.000000001 percent.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) March 10, 2014
When asked about Peppers' situation in late February, general manager Phil Emery was noncommittal, via ESPN's Wright:
That would be a contract question, and I think I have had a very demonstrated history of not answering those questions. I will say that Julius is part of our football team. He is under contract. We’re all coming off an 8-8 season. We have a lot to improve upon and that is where our heads are at.
Who will Julius Peppers be playing for in 2014?
Should no team come forward in the trade market, Peppers will likely be released. The Bears gave up 394.6 yards per game last season and could use help all over the defensive side of the ball.
Ridding themselves of Peppers' contract—no matter how it happens—will free up a lot of cap space to help do just that.