After a successful homecoming season for Julius Peppers, the veteran defensive end has a decision to make: Hang up his cleats after 16 fantastic seasons in the NFL, or stick around for another run, preferably with the Carolina Panthers?
Reports in Charlotte suggest he’s leaning towards sticking around for a while longer. The 38-year old played through an injury in 2017, which didn’t stop him from appearing in all 16 games for the Panthers, helping them make the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. He finished with 11 sacks while starting in 5 of the games, going through a much leaner workload. He has already undergone surgery on the shoulder that bothered him, and should be ready for the beginning of the 2018 season.
Peppers, who played for the Panthers from 2002 to 2009, helping them to one Super Bowl while making it to 5 Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams, returned to his home state after wandering in “foreign” fields of the NFC North, playing 4 seasons with the Chicago Bears, followed by 3 in Green Bay as a Packers player. Overall, he has 9 Pro Bowl and 3 All-Pro selections as well as 154.5 sacks (4th all-time, 1st among active players) in a career that will likely be eventually immortalized in the Hall of Fame.
Peppers is a free agent, which means there will be offers from contenders. He made $3.5 million last season, and the Panthers have Star Lotulelei to re-sign as well. In a way-too-early free agency prediction it’s likely that Peppers stays in North Carolina until he calls it quits, but sometimes players receive offers that are too good to refuse, especially if Peppers feel that a Super Bowl run is more likely somewhere else.