A Scout's Take on Julius Peppers Signing with the Packers

Bob FoxContributor IMarch 22, 2014

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers talks with Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears after Peppers was flagged for roughing Rodgers at Soldier Field on December 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-13.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I had another opportunity on Friday to talk with scout Chris Landry. One of the things I asked Chris about was the signing last weekend of defensive end Julius Peppers by the Green Bay Packers.

Landry did not pull any punches regarding his evaluation of Peppers and how he will do with the Packers.

I hope he does well for Green Bay's sake. I don't know if he has much left. You wonder if you can get another good year out of him. Maybe he's motivated now. He's got a little bit of money guaranteed. He's certainly a declining player. And the issue is whether he has another year left that can help them (the Packers) out. Looking at him on tape, I was kind of on the side of that he's probably done. But one more (good) year is very possible.

I was a bit surprised with Landry's take about Peppers, but Chris is certainly one of the best evaluators of talent in both college football and the NFL.

ESPN reported that Peppers signed a three-year deal totaling $30 million maximum, $7.5 million of which is guaranteed. The salary in the first year is $8.5 million.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN also wrote that the cap hit for the Packers in the first year of the deal with Peppers is only $3.5 million.

On the first day of free agency on March 11, I speculated that Peppers might be a good fit for the Packers. 

One reason is that Mike Trgovac is the defensive line coach of the Packers. Trgovac was also the defensive line coach for Peppers in his rookie year in Carolina in 2002 and then was the defensive coordinator for the Panthers and Peppers from 2003-2008.

Another reason is that Peppers is very familiar with the Packers, having played them nine times in four seasons when he was a member of the Chicago Bears. The Bears were 2-7 in those nine games versus the Packers, with one of those losses being in the 2010 NFC Championship Game.

In the four seasons Peppers has been a Bear, the Packers have won a Super Bowl and also won three NFC North titles.

Peppers has never been able to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, although he did play in Super Bowl XXXVIII, when the Panthers lost to the Patriots.

While I agree with Landry's opinion about Peppers having declining skills, I didn't see as much of a drop-off as Chris did.

In 2013, Peppers had 46 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception (against the Packers), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery (for a touchdown).

To me, those stats aren't too bad. In fact, they were much better than any player on the defensive line of the Packers in 2013.

It's true that the production Peppers had last season doesn't measure up with his overall career numbers. But you know what? It's pretty close.

In his 12-year career, Peppers has had 563 tackles, 119 sacks, nine interceptions (two for touchdowns), 40 forced fumbles and 14 fumble recoveries (two for touchdowns).

That all averages out to 47 tackles, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery per season for Peppers, which almost mirrors his 2013 numbers, although the sacks are down a bit.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears in the helmet as Peppers was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The sack opportunities for Peppers in Green Bay should be plentiful in 2014, as opponents will also have to be concerned about the pass rush coming from the likes of Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Datone Jones, Nick Perry and Mike Daniels.

Bottom line, I believe the signing of Peppers was a good one for the Packers. The team only has to absorb a $3.5 million cap hit in 2014 by bringing aboard Peppers.

The Packers are gambling that Peppers has at least one good year left in him this upcoming season. Based on his statistical production last season, I believe that their calculations will prove to be correct.

As Landry said, "One more (good) year is very possible."