Who comes to mind when I say, “Freak of Nature?” How about the second pick in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Julius Peppers. Since being drafted in 2002, Julius Peppers has been one of the most dominant players in the NFL. In his NFL career he has played in 202 games, and has recorded 601 total tackles, 125.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, and scored four touchdowns.
The Carolina Panthers might have the opportunity this offseason to bring Peppers back if the Green Bay Packers decide to release him. According to his contract, he is scheduled to make $9.5 million next season, and will carry a $12 million dollar cap figure. If the Packers release Julius Peppers they could gain $7 million in open cap space. At age 35, Peppers can still be a dominant pass rusher in this league. He proved it during the 2014 season with 44 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions, and two touchdowns.
However, Carolina Panthers fans have mixed feelings about Julius Peppers. They either love him or they hate him. Panthers fans might have a bad taste in their mouth because of his work ethic, and how he left Carolina.
Julius Peppers is known for not having a strong work ethic. He'll show up for a few plays a game, and then disappear. When he tries he is a freak of nature, because his athleticism is through the roof. When his motor is running he can do any of the following: run through the offensive line, swat the ball, knock the quarterback on his back, intercept the pass, and score a touchdown. He has been in the NFL for 13 seasons, has been on three different teams, and still lack's the ability to keep his motor running. If Peppers didn't take a few plays off, he might be still be a member of the Carolina Panthers.
He left Carolina because of all the confusion during the 2007 NFL season. He only had 2.5 sacks that season, and the Panthers ignored his contract talk in the offseason. Julius Peppers said, “How can you say you want to be somewhere when you’re not really sure if they want you there because they’re not even talking to you?” The next season he recorded 14.5 sacks and the Panthers wanted to talk. By then it was too late and Peppers wanted out of Carolina.
However, there is another side to all of this hatred. There are still Panthers fans who love Peppers, and would love to see him put on a Carolina Panthers jersey once again. In those eight seasons he played in Carolina, he did so much for the Panthers. He was big, athletic, and quick off the line. In his first season he had 12 sacks, and was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. During his eight year career with the Panthers he recorded 70.5 sacks, six interceptions and had two touchdowns. He was constantly double teamed on the line, and teams had to draw up game plans specifically designed for him before each game.
So the ultimate question is, would I accept Peppers if he came home to Carolina? I would welcome Julius Peppers back in Carolina, but not with open arms. If his asking price is too high I don't think he is worth it. He is still a feared edge rusher, but he is 35 years old. I don't think he would be an every down starter because of his age, and motor. I do think that he could help the Panthers as far as providing veteran leadership, coming off the bench, and working with other defensive lineman to improve their game. Peppers is one of the most athletic players to ever play the game.
If you were the one to decide for the Panthers, would you take Julius Peppers back?
By, Justin Raymond
Follow Me On Twitter @JayRay19