One of the greatest pass-rushers in NFL history has decided to call it a career.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers announced on Friday that he is retiring. The team shared an emotional tribute video to him on Twitter:
Julius Peppers has something to say… pic.twitter.com/VKGjFmlWum
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) February 1, 2019
Peppers, 39, was drafted by Carolina with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Panthers before signing a massive free agent contract with the Bears on 2010. After four seasons in Chicago, Peppers spent three with the Green Bay Packers and then returned to Carolina for the last two.
Peppers had 16 sacks with the Panthers between 2017 and 2018, so he was still able to get after the quarterback even in his late-30s. He finishes his career with 159.5 sacks, which places him fourth all time.
- Filed Under:
- Julius Peppers
Some say that the NFL stands for “Not For Long,” and the reasons for that are obvious. Football is a dangerous game played by some of the strongest and fastest athletes in the world. Most NFL careers are understandably short at an average of between 3-6 years, with the higher number projected by the NFL and the lower number projected by the NFLPA.
In some cases, players exceed those numbers, but Father Time catches up with everyone. And quite often, that’s a hard pill to swallow for someone who loves the game and knows nothing else. But in the end, retirement is inevitable for all who snap on the chinstrap.
Here’s a look at 10 NFL players who should be considering retirement in 2018.
10. Karlos Dansby, LB, free agent
Karlos Dansby briefly considered retirement a season ago before signing a one-year deal to return to the Arizona Cardinals, where he appeared in 16 games, recording 95 tackles and one sack. While Dansby’s numbers were still respectable, his Pro Football Focus grade dipped to 68.2, which is considered below average. But despite that, and the fact that he’s approaching the age of 37, Dansby still does not appear ready to hang them up, and teams remain interested. Ultimately, the window on Dansby’s career is closing. He’ll need to think about life after football sooner rather than later.
Julius Peppers scored big on Sunday.
The Carolina Panthers veteran recorded a sack against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late in the third quarter for a huge loss of 13. Not only did the play help limit the Bucs to just three points on the possession, but the sack triggered a $750,000 bonus for Peppers.
By recording his 11th sack of the season, Panthers DE Julius Peppers has just triggered a $750,000 sack incentive.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 24, 2017
When Peppers signed with the Panthers in the offseason, he received a $3.5 million base salary. He received a $250,000 bonus for getting seven sacks; a $500,000 bonus for nine sacks; and if he got 11 sacks, he would receive a $750,000 bonus.
With a game left in the regular season, Peppers might even be able to get more. The 11 sacks are the most Peppers has had in a season since 2012 with the Bears. He now has 154.5 career sacks. He’s also in good company when it comes to the $750,000 bonus sacks club this season.
- Filed Under:
- Julius Peppers
The 2017 NFL regular season is nearing the end with only three games remaining. With so many games having been played, evaluating previously signed free agents becomes a bit easier. And more often than not, the mid-season and post-season grades for such signings vastly differ from their pre-season grades.
Case in point: Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Washington Redskins. It didn’t appear to be much of an investment on the surface, and some could have considered the deal a steal. But after substantial struggles early in the season, Pryor was lost to injury and the Redskins were out $6 million. Needless to say, not every high-profile deal is a good one.
Though the Pryor signing turned out to be a bust, many others yielded excellent results for their teams this season. Here’s a look at 20 free agent signings that have paid off this season (in no particular order):
20. Barry Church, S, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars have been wheeling and dealing in recent years, so they’ll be well featured on this list. First up is safety Barry Church, who was signed to a four-year, $26 million contract this offseason. Although he’s playing slightly worse than a season ago, he’s still been a solid addition to Jacksonville’s defense. In 13 games, Church has recorded 60 tackles (47 solo), one sack, five passes defensed and two interceptions. He’s also warranted a 83.7 Pro Football Focus grade.
19. Rick Wagner, OT, Detroit Lions
Wagner signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal this offseason and has rewarded the Lions with 12 starts through 13 weeks. And while he hasn’t been perfect, he has earned a 81.7 PFF grade, which is good for 10th-best among tackles in the NFL. Needless to say, for a team that struggled along the offensive line in 2017, Wagner has helped provide some much-needed stability.
The 2017 regular season has been packed full of surprises. From a team perspective, the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants stand out for being so much better and so much worse than we expected, but it’s not just limited to those two organizations.
Yes, the Rams and Giants have gone in totally different directions than expected, but units like the New England Patriots defense have been worse than expected, and the the New York Jets have even found a way to open eyes.
But what players have contributed to all these surprises? Well, here’s a look at every NFL team’s most surprising player, good or bad, so far this season.
Arizona Cardinals – Adrian Peterson, RB
After appearing in only 20 games over his final three seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, many believed the career of Adrian Peterson had reached its end. Even with another opportunity given to him by the New Orleans Saints, little changed for Peterson. He appeared in four games, gaining just 81 yards on 27 carries. Then came the trade to Arizona. Although he hasn’t exactly returned to Hall of Fame form, he has gained 369 yards in five games, providing the Cardinals with an unexpected spark on the ground.
Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan, QB
A year after winning the NFL MVP Award and leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl, Matt Ryan has hit a bit of a wall. He’s returned to 2015 form and seen his completion percentage, yards per game, touchdown to interception ratio, yards per attempt and quarterback rating all drop — some of those considerably. He threw for 38 touchdowns last season and has just 15 in 10 games this season. His passer rating has dropped from 117.1 to 95.7. To cap it off, the Falcons are 6-4 and are no shoo-in to make the playoffs.
- Adrian Amos, Adrian Peterson, Alex Collins, Alex Smith, Alvin Kamara, Calais Campbell, Carson Wentz, Case Keenum, Chris McCain, Demar Dotson, Demarcus Lawrence, Deshaun Watson, Domato Peko, Eddie Lacy, Jamal Agnew, Jared Goff, Jason McCourty, Jay Ajayi, Jeremy Hill, Josh McCown, Julius Peppers, Kevin Byard, Landon Collins, LeSean McCoy, Marquise Goodwin, Marshawn Lynch, Martavis Bryant, Matt Ryan, Rashaan Melvin, Stephon Gilmore, Terrelle Pryor, Ty Montgomery
There can only be one NFL MVP, but each team can claim their own most valuable player, no matter how good or bad the franchise’s season goes. Sometimes the team’s MVP is an elite defender, a star quarterback, or a remarkable playmaker, or even a special teams player, if the rest of the team is struggling a lot.
Here’s a look at each NFL team’s MVP so far in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals — Chandler Jones, LB
The former New England Patriot is once again proving to be the defensive rock for the Cardinals, setting records along the way. He has picked up eight sacks in just seven games thus far in 2017, and is proving to be a nightmarish foe for opposing blockers and quarterbacks. The gaudy numbers are great, but Jones has also been valuable in other ways. He’s good against the run and has put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even when he doesn’t get the sack.
Atlanta Falcons — Devonta Freeman, RB
In what has been a disappointing year for the Atlanta offense, Freeman has continued to stand out and produce no matter what is happening around him. His 2017 thus far has been every bit as solid as his 2016 was. Freeman is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has piled up five rushing touchdowns in six games. As Matt Ryan and his fellow offensive players have failed to hit the heights that they did in 2016, Freeman has simply been steady and reliable.
- A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Cameron Wake, Carson Wentz, Chandler Jones, Demarcus Lawrence, Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, Devonta Freeman, Drew Brees, Evan Engram, Everson Griffen, Golden Tate, Jermaine Kearse, Jordan Howard, Julius Peppers, Justin Tucker, Kareem Hunt, Kevin Byard, Kirk Cousins, Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, Melvin Ingram, Micah Hyde, Mike Evans, Myles Garrett, Robbie Gould, Russell Wilson, Todd Gurley, Tom Brady, TY Hilton, Von Miller
Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, several popular names still lead the fray when it comes to defensive production. However, key injuries to superstars like J.J. Watt have created a void that has been filled by some surprising players, many of whom are having career years.
Here’s a look at each NFL team’s best defensive player so far in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals — Tyvon Branch, S
There are a lot of talented defenders on Arizona’s roster, but through six weeks, it’s hard to argue that Tyvon Branch — who has been called a “wolverine” complement to the “honey badger” — isn’t the very best. He not only leads the team and is tied for the league lead with 55 tackles, but he’s also defended four passes, forced a fumble and was named to the Pro Football Focus First Quarter All-Pro Team. Branch getting the nod says a lot about his impact this season when you consider Arizona also has Chandler Jones and his six sacks.
Atlanta Falcons — Deion Jones, LB
Deion Jones has filled out the box score this year, leading the Falcons with 38 tackles. He’s also recorded a sack, three passes defended and an interception. Jones is also among Pro Football Focus’ top 15 graded linebackers this season, alongside teammate De’Vondre Campbell, who has also landed very high grades for Atlanta. Jones is blossoming well for Atlanta in his second NFL season.
- Akiem Hicks, Blake Martinez, Bobby Wagner, Brandon Graham, Brent Grimes, Calais Campbell, Cam Heyward, Cameron Jordan, CJ Mosley, Darius Slay, Deion Jones, Demarcus Lawrence, Geno Atkins, Harrison Smith, Jaquiski Tartt, Jason McCourty, John Simon, Johnathan Joseph, Jordan Poyer, Julius Peppers, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, Landon Collins, Malcolm Butler, Mark Barron, Melvin Ingram, Morris Claiborne, Reshad Jones, Tyvon Branch, Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard, Zach Brown