There has been some speculation that the Green Bay Packers would part with outside linebacker Julius Peppers after his first season with the team.
That argument is two-pronged. Peppers is 35 years old and after having a Packers-friendly $3.5 million cap number in year one of his contract, that numbers escalates to $12 million in 2015.
If the Packers cut Peppers, they’d eat $5 million in dead money, but they’d still get $7 million in cap space back.
On the other hand, the argument for keeping Peppers is pretty obvious. He was still productive in 2014, with 54 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 INTs, 6 forced fumbles and 3 recoveries. He also led the Packers in QB pressures and was a leader in the locker room, as evidenced by him being elected a defensive captain for the playoffs.
In our minds, the positives of Peppers returning always outweighed the negatives and coach Mike McCarthy obviously feels the same.
“I must be the only who doesn’t know why this question comes up,” McCarthy told reporters at the combine. “He had a great year. Had an impact on the field and in the locker room. I think he looks great in green and gold.”
We’re going to assume general manager Ted Thompson agrees. We’re doing that not only because McCarthy and Thompson are seemingly always on the same page, but because Thompson has a history of sticking with veteran players who are under contract for multiple seasons, as Peppers is.
Look at A.J. Hawk, Tramon Williams, Donald Driver, Chad Clifton, etc. The Packers stuck with those guys until at least the final year of their contracts, even in light of declining returns. Thus far, Peppers hasn’t even started to decline.
The exception to this trend is Charles Woodson, who the Packers released after the 2012 season with two years left on his deal. The difference there is Woodson’s contract had no dead money. At that point it was based entirely on a substantial base salary and yearly roster bonuses, so the Packers suffered no salary cap consequences.
At any rate, Julie does look good in green and gold, so we’re glad that’s been cleared up.