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Julius Peppers Won't Retire, Will Return to NFL for 16th Season

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2017

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04:  Julius Peppers #56 of the Green Bay Packers plays defensive end in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Julius Peppers has terrorized NFL quarterbacks for 15 seasons and decided Monday to return for another.

Agent Carl Carey told Rob Demovsky and Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com of Peppers' decision. He is currently a free agent, having spent the last three seasons in Green Bay.

The 37-year-old entered the league as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft and has played for the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Green Bay PackersHe posted 7.5 sacks last season and has 143.5 for his career.

Peppers' announcement comes after Ryan Wood of USA Today reported in December the outside linebacker was considering retirement after his three-year, $26 million deal with Green Bay ended.

"I'm not saying that I don't want to play next year," Peppers said. "I'm not saying that I do. I'm just saying that right now, I don't know. And I'll figure it out at some point."

The Packers lessened Peppers' load during the season, although he was forced into a larger role at times due to injuries. He moved into fifth place, ahead of Michael Strahan, on the all-time sacks list in 2016 with a takedown of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler.

It was another notch on Peppers' incredible resume that includes nearly everything but a Super Bowl ring. He is a nine-time Pro Bowler, Defensive Rookie of the Year and three-time first-team All-Pro.

His durability has always stood out:

Julius Peppers' Career Stats
SeasonTeamGamesCombined TacklesSacks
2002Carolina Panthers123512.0
2003Carolina Panthers16447.0
2004Carolina Panthers166411.0
2005Carolina Panthers165010.5
2006Carolina Panthers165813.0
2007Carolina Panthers14382.5
2008Carolina Panthers165114.5
2009Carolina Panthers164210.5
2010Chicago Bears16548.0
2011Chicago Bears163711.0
2012Chicago Bears163911.5
2013Chicago Bears16457.0
2014Green Bay Packers16447.0
2015Green Bay Packers163710.5
2016Green Bay Packers16237.5
Source: ESPN.com

Conor Orr of NFL.com reported that Peppers "would almost certainly have his pick of contending teams to play for next season if he so chooses."

The Hall of Fame will have to wait.

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