Panthers bring back 38-year-old Peppers for 1 more year
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Julius Peppers isn’t done playing football just yet.
The 38-year-old free agent re-signed with the Panthers on Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year contract.
The deal is for $5 million, with $2.5 million guaranteed, a person familiar with the situation said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not release financial terms of contracts.
”I am fired up to have him back,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera told The Associated Press. ”It was amazing to have him as part of what we are trying to build and I think he can help us get to the next level.”
Peppers had contemplated retirement after the Panthers went 11-5 last season and made the playoffs as a wild card team.
Peppers is entering his 17th NFL season, including his 10th with the Panthers.
A nine-time Pro bowl selection, he returned to Carolina last season and had a productive season with 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Peppers helps provide some depth at defensive end after starter Charles Johnson was released earlier this offseason.
Peppers’ 154 sacks are the fourth-most in NFL history. He needs six sacks to pass Kevin Greene and move into third place on the NFL’s all-time list.
The North Carolina native was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Panthers following a successful college career with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
He played his first eight seasons in Carolina before joining the Chicago Bears in 2010. He played four years there and three more for the Green Bay Packers before returning to Carolina last year.
Peppers has played in 250 career games, tied for seventh-most of any defensive player in NFL history and has played in 160 straight games, the second-longest of any defensive player.
He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Peppers leads all active players with 20 career fumble recoveries and ranks second in forced fumbles (49) in the NFL since 2002. His 11 career interceptions rank second all-time for defensive ends.
Smith brings needed speed to the team’s wide receiver position.
He said in a conference call Wednesday that he’s thrilled to join the Panthers and have a chance to play with quarterback Cam Newton, whom he has worked out with in the past.
”The Eagles were very open about the trade, so I wasn’t blindsided,” said Smith, who had 36 catches for 430 yards and two touchdowns while starting 14 games last year for the Super Bowl champions. ”But this is one of the places I wanted to be and I’m happy that it played out that way.”
Smith played one season with former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith in Baltimore and said he’s like a ”legit big brother I can talk to about anything.”
The Panthers lost unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to Buffalo on Wednesday after he signed a five-year deal with the Bills.
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