Happy Birthday, Julius PeppersJanuary 18th, 2014
Joe realizes stud-edge-rusher-hungry Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier could be satisfied going into 2014 with Adrian Clayborn as their lead dog at right defensive end. But Joe surely wouldn’t bet a nickel on that happening.
These guys want a beast who will command double-teams, strike fear into opponents, adeptly play off their star defensive tackle, and register double-digit sacks.
Will Lovie make a move in free agency or gamble in the draft?
Remember, Lovie is the same guy who huddled with his former general manager, and trusted defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, and decided it was worth trading a second-round pick to the Bucs for underachieving Gaines Adams five games into the 2009 season.
It was a terribly foolish play by the Bears, but that’s how desperate Lovie is to have his edge rusher, one that can get to the QB without stunts and blitzes.
And that brings Joe to Julius Peppers, who turns 34 today. After Adams flopped in Chicago during the ’09 season, Lovie and the Bears broke the bank for then-free-agent Peppers.
This season, Peppers’ performance dropped off along with the rest of the Bears defense after Lovie’s departure, and now word out of Chicago is the team will cut him before they pay him the $14 million he’s due next season.
Chicago Tribune Bears beat writer Brad Biggs, however, wrote yesterday that Peppers has plenty left to offer.
I don’t see how the Bears can justify paying a 34-year-old Peppers (he turns 34 Saturday) $14 million in 2014. But at the same, he’s still got value, and I can tell you that opposing coaches remain very concerned about Peppers when they prepare to face the Bears. He was the only player that worried teams up front after injuries swept through the defense. The question is can the Bears come up with an economical solution that works for them and the player? I don’t know if that is what general manager Phil Emery wants to do. And I have no idea if Peppers is open to a pay reduction. He might say no thanks and prefer a fresh start elsewhere. The Bears might not approach him for a pay cut for fear that they’ll get reduced effort in return.
Joe’s pretty confident Peppers will be available soon, and everything Joe’s read out of Chicago says Peppers is a Lovie kind of guy.
Joe liked the idea of the Bucs landing John Abraham last offseason. He was 35, very versatile, and Joe heard Abraham go on a passionate rant on SiriusNFL Radio about year ago, talking about how much he wanted to get into the Hall of Fame. Abraham’s subsequent 11 1/2-sack, Pro Bowl season in Arizona likely punched his ticket to Canton.
Peppers is in a somewhat similar boat. He likely needs one more big season to land into the Hall conversation. Does that motivate him?
Of course, Jared Allen and others will be available.
Joe has no idea what the Bucs will do, but there will be a furious infusion of pass-rushing talent. Joe would wager on that.