It shouldn’t come as a shock, given his age and his salary, but the Chicago Bears have released defensive end Julius Peppers, the team announced Tuesday night.
Peppers was scheduled to make $13.9 million is 2014 and would have counted $20 million against the cap.
Given the recent signing of defensive end Lamarr Houston and GM Phil Emery’s desire to go younger on defense, it was only fitting that the two parted ways.
In 2010, Peppers signed a six-year contract worth $84 million — the largest contract ever given to a defensive player at that time.
During that time span, he registered 37.5 sacks, with seven coming in the last year.
During his 12-year career, spent between Chicago and Carolina, he registered 119 sacks, 17th in NFL history. He also has the fifth-most double-digit sacks in league history with eight, and is 10th in forced fumbles, among a number of other accolades, including eight Pro Bowl appearances.
The biggest question mark, however, is does he have anything left, and if so, at what price?
And would the Bucs be interested, even after landing Charles Johnson, regarded as one of the premier free agent pass rushers? As crazy as it may sound, you can’t completely rule out a reunion with Smith and Peppers, especially considering the team already expressed interest in Charles Tillman, Devin Hester and Henry Melton.
Considering how much harder it is to sign veteran players in the league, it will be interesting to see how the market shapes up for Peppers, as well as DeMarcus Ware, who was released by the Cowboys Tuesday afternoon.