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Julius Peppers: ‘Circumstances around me and the [Bears] … led to certain things’
Julius Peppers’ first media session as a member of the Green Bay Packers featured some interesting answers from the typically soft-spoken player who preferred to stay out of the spotlight in Chicago.
One of the most important factors in Peppers’ decision to join the Packers was the chance to play with star linebacker Clay Matthews. Peppers told reporters in Green Bay on Thursday that he’s never played with a player like him.
“I haven’t really played with a guy like Clay my whole career,” Peppers said. “Early in my career [with the Carolina Panthers], I played with a guy in Mike Rucker, who was a threat on the other side. But a really dominant player on the other side, I really haven’t had that, ever. So I’m excited.”
Peppers has a point. The Bears’ left-end position hasn’t been held by perennial Pro Bowlers. Shea McClellin and Corey Wootton played the most opposite Peppers in 2013. In the three seasons before that, it was veteran Israel Idonije primarily at the other end.
But it was Peppers who was signed in 2010 to be that “really dominant player” for the Bears. He wasn’t that enough during an erratic 2013 season, which saw the Bears’ defense fall to historically bad levels. Peppers’ 7.5 sacks and 31 solo tackles last season were his lowest totals since 2007.
All of it made Peppers and his $18,183,333 million salary-cap hit set for 2014 expendable. A contract restructuring in September 2013 actually increased his cap hits for 2014 and 2015.
So Peppers was cut with two years remaining on his contract on the same day the Bears signed defensive end Lamarr Houston. The Bears were later able to sign defensive end Jared Allen, who has 56.5 sacks over the last four seasons compared to Peppers’ 37.5
“I felt fine last year,” the 34-year-old Peppers said. “Circumstances around me and the [Bears], you know, led to certain things. But as far as me and how my body feels, I feel great.”
Peppers will play outside linebacker in Green Bay’s 3-4 scheme.
“They have a lot of pieces in place — that was important (in signing with the Packers),” Peppers told reporters. “Guys have a lot of talent, a lot of talent on this team. I feel like I’ll blend in well with these guys. Those are some of the things that led to me wanting to be here.”