Packers general manager Ted Thompson isn’t known for making moves in free agency, but he does make exceptions. Thompson and the Packers signed one of the bigger names available Saturday in defensive end Julius Peppers.
Peppers, recently released by the Bears in a salary-cap move, received a three-year contract worth $30 million, FOX Sports 1 Insider Mike Garafolo and other media reported. Peppers had signed a six-year, $84 million contract with the Bears in 2010, but was going to be due $13.9 million in 2010 with a $20 million cap number.
Previous to the Bears, Peppers played for Carolina from 2002-09. One of his coaches with the Panthers was current Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac.
In 12 seasons in the NFL, the 34-year-old Peppers has 556 tackles, 118.5 sacks and 39 forced fumbles. He had 45 tackles and seven sacks, the latter tying for his second-fewest in a season, with the Bears in 2013. Eight times Peppers has had double-digit sack seasons, including two of his four with Chicago.
The signing was quickly heralded by a couple of Packers players on Twitter.
Defensive lineman Mike Daniels wrote "Looking forward to line up next to/learn from one of the best pass rushers, Julius Peppers" while linebacker Mike Neal, who recently re-signed with Green Bay, wrote "So we get Julius Peppers!!! LOL and we got BJ back…and we already got some dawgs!!! Well damn let the hunting begin!!! #GoPackGo".
Kicker Mason Crosby: "Well glad Pepper’s will now be trying to block my kicks in practice. At least he will be blocking everyone else in games."
In addition to Neal, Green Bay also recently re-signed nose tackle B.J. Raji and tight end Andrew Quarless.
But Peppers was completely unexpected and perhaps will enliven a fan base waiting for the team to make a move in free agency. The last time Green Bay signed a big name in free agency was Charles Woodson in 2006. The team would win a Super Bowl a few years later.