DE Julius Peppers
Former Team: Chicago Bears
New Team: Green Bay Packers
Contract: Three Years, $30 Million (7.5 Million Guaranteed)
How Green Bay Will Benefit:
Although Peppers is from Division Rival Chicago Bears, he can still give the Packers some much needed help on the defensive line. How Peppers will benefit the Packers is by 1). giving them a reliable pass-rusher on the outside who can sack the quarterback and 2). a guy who can drop back in coverage and jump up and even intercept a pass or two. If you watch his tape and study his overall playing ability, you can see Peppers is definitely an athletic specimen. By going out and getting a defensive end like Peppers, the Packers are helping out their 25th-ranked rush defense which allowed 125.0 rushing yards per game last season. Although Peppers’ numbers declined from the 2012 to the 2013 season (11.5 sacks and 32 solo tackles in 2012, 7 sacks and 31 solo tackles in 2013), he is still a formidable force on this Packers defensive line that features B.J. “The Freezer” Raji and Datone Jones. One way Green Bay will benefit is that they can now concentrate on their passing defense rather than their rushing defense.
In 2013 their passing defense ranked 24th in the league and allowed a touchdown in every single game, excluding week eight against the Vikings. In total the Pack allowed opposing QBs to complete 30 touchdown passes against their defense in 2013. With Peppers signed, the Pack could perhaps go out and pick up a linebacker, safety or offensive lineman, if they so chose. Peppers can play multiple positions and the Packers plan to utilize him as a LB, DT and DE throughout the season. The bottom line: Peppers gives a Green Bay defense some needed star power and more importantly, some speed and finesse on the outside.
How Chicago Can Benefit:
With the loss of Peppers, the Bears are losing a big play maker on their defensive line. However, after one of the worst defensive seasons on record (ranked last in the league with 161.4 rushing yards allowed per game and ranked 15th with 233.1 passing yards allowed with 25 passing touchdowns given up), Chicago needed to clean house and start over. Was getting rid of their star defensive end the best choice? Not necessarily, however they needed some extra cap room and can now start with a clean slate. Already the Bears have gone out and gotten some help on the defensive end through free agency, picking up Oakland DE Lamarr Houston (6 sacks, 56 solo tackles, 69 total tackles in 2013), Detroit DE Willie Young (47 total tackles, 3 sacks and 5 passes defended) and Minnesota DE Jared Allen (128.5 career sacks). With those additions there is really nothing more that the Bears can do to benefit their team in terms of replacing Peppers. What the Bears can do to benefit their team is using their picks in the draft on getting solid linebackers and a solid defensive tackle (perhaps Aaron Donald?). Their offense has been very solid and reliable, this season is the time for the Bears to get back to their Monsters of the Midway status and take names in the NFC North this season.