Julius Peppers got that question we all knew was coming on Monday. Does he want to play in 2017?
Peppers is in the final year of his contract and if he played in 2017, he would be 37 years old. Although he told Rob Demovsky he wants to play as long as he can, Peppers didn’t provide any sort of definitive answer.
Julius Peppers: "I’m not saying that I don’t want to play next year. I’m not saying that I do. I’m just saying that right now I don’t know." pic.twitter.com/gTfP1580ZC
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) December 5, 2016
The question came after Peppers turned in his best performance of the season against Houston. However, that type of performance has not been the norm for Peppers this season.
Although he can still rush the passer, Peppers is no longer an every-down player. He’s become a liability against the run. The Packers have been limiting his snaps this season in an effort to keep him fresh and productive.
To a degree, that has worked. Peppers has 6.5 sacks this season (to go along with just 18 tackles). He also has a forced fumble and three passes defended.
We had fully expected the Packers to move on from Peppers similar to how they’ve moved on from other veterans, such as Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal. Free agency arrives and the Packers just don’t call.
However, if Peppers wants to return on a one-year minimum-type deal, we really don’t see a downside to that, even if he’s only playing limited snaps. If he can give the team six sacks and it only costs them a couple million (or somewhere in that neighborhood), having Julius around for another season is worth it.
The Packers can’t afford anything near the $10.5 million cap hit Peppers’ contract is costing them this season, however.
Between him and Matthews eating up $25M of the cap, you have to say the Packers ROI on OLB’s has been disappointing. Peppers productivity is in line with a $4-5M contract if he chooses to return.
Matthews needs to be restructured. He’s a shade of his former self, and even if it’s just injury related, he’s wearing down, isn’t available or if he is, plays at half throttle trying to avoid injury. The guy we saw flying around the field 09-11 is gone for good. He needs to be brought back at a much lower price tag for next season. If he won’t, then play him out and jettison the weight when his contract expires.
The Rams would be a good destination for him. Closer to the commercial shoots.
Peppers can go to the vikings. Where Packer players go to quietly die. Much like the vikings 2016 season.