Last offseason, the Green Bay Packers let outside linebacker Julius Peppers sign with his original team, the Carolina Panthers, as a free agent. We now know they didn’t even bother to offer Peppers a contract.
Peppers turned 37 in 2017. Clearly, the Packers’ logic was Peppers was too old. He was finished.
This came after a season in which Peppers registered 7.5 sacks. The Panthers signed Peppers to a fairly modest $3.5 million one-year deal, with sack incentives that could push it to $4.25 million. Peppers registered 11 sacks for Carolina in 2017, earning the full amount of the deal.
Peppers parlayed that into another one-year deal worth $5 million from the Panthers.
Meanwhile, the Packers struggled mightily with their pass rush. Their heavy hitters — Clay Matthews and Nick Perry — finished with 7.5 and seven sacks respectively. The rest of their outside linebackers had 5.5 sacks combined, led by Kyler Fackrell’s three.
Keeping Peppers wouldn’t have solved that problem alone.
However, coach Mike McCarthy admitted the Packers messed up in not re-signing Peppers last year. That he was missed both from a leadership and production standpoint.
“Oh, absolutely,” McCarthy said. “You look at Julius and Datone (Jones), that was 1,100 snaps of pass rush and we replaced it with (Ahmad) Brooks and (Chris) Odom. Just from an availability standpoint alone, that was a pretty significant void there.”
Jones is really insignificant in this conversation. The former first-round pick didn’t do anything in four seasons with the Packers. He was out of the league in 2017. If the Packers wanted him back, he was available.
Green Bay signed Brooks after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. He was regularly injured and delivered just 1.5 sacks. Odom was claimed off waivers after being released by the Atlanta Falcons. He didn’t register a sack and hardly played.
As McCarthy seems to be pointing out — those were crap signings. Ones that added up to nothing.
The Packers have yet to get any better on the edge this year. Free agent signing Muhammed Wilkerson may help provide some push up front. Vince Biegel may come on after an injury-riddled rookie season. Nick Perry and Clay Matthews may stay healthy for a full season.
Lot of maybes there.
The Packers sorely need to address the edge either through the draft or by hoping a potential impact player gets released later this offseason.
The fact that Peppers’ veteran leadership was missed, in a position group that includes a soon-to-be 32 year old Clay Matthews with nearly a decade of service, pretty much vindicates how a lot of people view Clay.
Kept to long. No value to Anyone now.
Mistake? Yes. TT, MM, DC, and Ball. Three 4 watt bulbs are still with us! Hello.
Wait….doesn’t an 11 sack season win you a lottery ticket contract? My apologies…..Nick, you deserved (cough) it.
The problem with leadership, is we didn’t have any, and we still don’t. I don’t have much thought on Peppers either way. I just don’t look at somebody as a leader who tells a guy to “get down” after a pick, when he has running room. Just because Peppers had 11 sacks with the Panthers doesn’t mean he would have had them with the Packers. At his age, he’s doin pretty well for himself. But he has limitations in what he can, and can’t play. The fact he’s one guy we didn’t re-up and over-pay is a good thing i guess.
Good article Joseph.
Does it bother anyone besides me…that we spend on average almost 25 million/year on 2 edge rushers, but all we hear is that we need another edge rusher? How fucked up is that?
And some people will bitch if Rodgers makes 30 million/year and call him selfish and not a team player. But overpay some others and no one says boo. Not even the team.
Don’t want to rock the boat and hurt anyone’s feelings, right Mr. Murphy?
The Packers would have limited his playing time, to keep him “fresh”, rather than turning him loose and letting him do what he can do, like the Panthers did. The Packers kind of out think themselves sometimes. Woodson is another example.
And because Gutey so completely mishandled the DB situation we now have to burn draft picks on DBs instead of edge rushers. We will have to again rely on Fabio and Nick “Fragile Porcelain Figurine” Perry to get sacks.
Peppers wanted to play for CAR, so unless we vastly outbade (overpaying while doing so) the Panthers, we weren’t getting him.
I read he was open to coming back to the Pack, but they never offered a contract.
Just like Hyde, Hayward, (Jones, Randall and Ha-Ha), Peppers production is more of what is expected under better coaching
Exactly . . .
Funny article considering Total Packers, about 13 months or so ago, posted an article with the Packers’ top “Need to sign free agents” & low & behold Julie was at the bottom of that list… who wrote this article? Captain Hindsight?