The Carolina Panthers have signed unrestricted free agent defensive end Julius Peppers to a one-year contract, the team announced Saturday.
“Julius has been incredibly productive throughout his career,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “When we watched Julius we saw he continues to bring tough, physical play to the field and he’s going to be an important part of our rotation on the defensive line. Pairing him with Charles Johnson just adds to the veteran leadership in place on our defensive line, and those two are a great example for our younger players. The Panthers are entering their 23rd season in the NFL, and we’re thrilled to have Julius back with the team as he has been a large part of the tradition and heritage of this franchise.
Peppers, 6-7 and 285 pounds, began his career with the Panthers, playing eight seasons (2002-09) with the team after being selected with the No. 2 overall draft choice of the 2002 NFL Draft out of the University of North Carolina. He returns to the Panthers after playing four seasons (2010-13) with the Chicago Bears and three seasons (2014-16) with the Green Bay Packers. Peppers is the Panthers all-time franchise leader with 81 sacks and 29 forced fumbles. His five Pro Bowl appearances (2004-06, 2008-09) with Carolina are tied for the most in Panthers history.
“I am very excited to have a second opportunity to work with Julius Peppers as his position coach,” defensive line coach Eric Washington said. “He is a unique talent who continues to be a consistent factor and threat to make game-changing plays for the benefit of the defense and his team. Julius is an exceptionally hard worker and conscientious about his approach to providing leadership by example.”
In 2016, Peppers played in 16 regular season games with 11 starts for Green Bay. He recorded 30 tackles, 7.5 sacks and three passes defensed.
In 15 NFL seasons, Peppers has made the Pro Bowl nine times (2004-06, 2008-12, 2015) and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. Since entering the NFL in 2002, Peppers ranks No. 1 in the league in sacks (143.5) and tied for No. 2 in forced fumbles (47). His career sack total ranks fifth in NFL history (since sacks became an official statistic in 1982). He is the only player in NFL history to record 100 or more sacks and 10 or more interceptions (11).
Peppers has played in 234 regular season career games with 227 starts. He has played in 144 consecutive regular season games, tied for the third-longest active streak among all NFL defenders. Peppers has career regular season totals of 837 tackles, 143.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 47 forced fumbles, 18 fumble recoveries and 66 passes defensed.