The Green Bay Packers general manager has always been hesitant to sign marquee free agents to big contracts. One of the few times Ted Thompson did so was when he signed Charles Woodson away from the Oakland Raiders in 2006. Woodson spent the next seven seasons with the Packers, and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Friday, Thompson again pulled the trigger on another big name free agent, as the Packers signed defensive end Julius Peppers to a three year contract worth $30 million, including $7.5 million guaranteed.
Peppers comes from the rival Chicago Bears, where he spent the last four years. The signing of Peppers will help add to a weak defensive line, which as a unit only had 11 sacks last year. While Peppers is getting up there in age, he still has shown the ability to disrupt the quarterback. If you look at the season finale between the Packers and Bears, had fullback John Kuhn not blocked Peppers at the last second, Aaron Rodgers would not have found Randall Cobb for the game-winning touchdown, and the Bears would have won the NFC North.
What the Packers hope that Peppers can do is take away some of the pressure off of Clay Matthews. In his great career, Peppers has totaled 118.5 sacks as a member of the Carolina Panthers and the Bears. In last year’s NFL draft, the Packers selected Datone Jones in the first round to try and help the defensive line get more pressure on the quarterback. But, as the numbers suggest, that was not the case last year. Peppers could possibly help Jones become the pass rusher the Packers need for their future.
After signing Julius Peppers, it looks like the Packers are done dishing out the big contracts. The last time Ted Thompson paid big money for a free agent, it resulted in a Super Bowl victory. Could Julius Peppers impact the defense the same way Charles Woodson did? Only time will tell.