Well, Packers fans, that all changed moments ago when reports started emerging that the Packers have signed veteran Pro Bowl DE Julius Peppers to a three-year deal.
ESPN reports that Peppers signed a three-year deal totaling a maximum of $30 million, including $7.5 million guaranteed. The first-year salary is $8.5 million. The way the deal is apparently structured basically makes succeeding years dependent upon performance, so it can likely be viewed as a one-year trial of the 34-year-old defensive end. The salary cap hit is reportedly around $3.5 million, which is very reasonable indeed.
How big could this be for the Packers and its woeful defense? Huge. HUGE! Even if Peppers is only a situational player at this stage, the impact on the field and in the locker room cannot be overstated.
Stay tuned for more on this story as it develops.
Now, back to our regularly-scheduled post...
What has Ted done so far (in addition to reportedly signing Peppers)?
- Kept LB Mike Neal around for two more years.
- CB Sam Shields is also in the fold for a while with a fairly sizable deal (although it is back-loaded on the contract dollars, according to reports).
- Re-signed TE Andrew Quarless for a reasonable amount.
- Got NT B.J. Raji for another year...at half the price of the offer on the table last fall.
The Packers also let safety M.D. Jennings -- he of the infamous Seattle "Fail Mary" game -- walk away. Just down the road, though. Chicago signed him, which should bring much delight to Rodgers and his receiving corps for those divisional games. (And really, how sweet is it that in exchange we pick up Peppers, whom Da Bearz released? That's one of the best non-trade "trades" we can think of.)
Speculation today is that TE Jermichael Finley is close to signing a deal with Seattle, despite not officially being cleared to play. Will see how that works out. The Packers always seem skittish -- perhaps rightly so -- with players coming back from what can be career-ending injuries. They are more willing to let some other team take the risks and the rewards. In their estimation, the downside to re-signing Finley is greater than the upside. He's had a hard time staying on the field the last couple seasons. Great potential and performance. But apparently no longer worth the money and the risk.
Here's the other remaining Packers' unrestricted free agents still available:
- WR James Jones
- FB John Kuhn
- RT Marshall Newhouse
- RB Kahlil Bell
- QB Matt Flynn
- ILB Rob Francois
- DE Johnny Jolly
- ILB Jamari Lattimore
- DT Ryan Pickett
- RB James Starks
- QB Seneca Wallace
- DE C.J. Wilson
There is still a lot to play out. And don't forget the draft...or the young players who had to sit out portions of the last year or two with injuries. Get some of those players back, especially on the defensive side of the ball, and the Packers could once again have as good a defense as anyone in the league.
Wow. It's been an interesting few days, Packer fans. And it just got a whole lot more interesting with the addition of Peppers to the Green 'n' Gold.
Go Pack Go!!!