The Carolina Panthers have a chance to do what plenty of professional sports teams only dream about. They have the chance the bring the Golden Kid home in what many has called his last season. No one really knows if this is it for Julius Peppers but it would be fitting if he could resign with the home state team, the one who originally drafted him and the one he has had his most success with. Peppers signing with the Panthers would be the same as Reggie White signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in his final season. If only that did happen.
During his eight-year career with Carolina Peppers was seen as the most dominant defensive player in the NFL. He racked up 81 sacks and led what was once considered the best defense in the league as they rode that momentum to a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Peppers took his talents to Chicago where he played 4 seasons, racking up another 37.5 sacks but the Bears were never quite good enough to get him back to the big stage.
In Green Bay, during a three-year run, he accumulated 25 sacks further cementing his place in NFL history as one of the best pass rushers in the game’s history. Even with Aaron Rodgers on the other side of the ball, it wasn’t enough to get him back and with his career winding down it may be time for the 36-year old to return home and make one final run at a ring.
What should intrigue the Panther more is their need for another LB. Luke Kuechly has dealt with concussions last season and no one quite knows his status entering 2017. While he’s expected to be fully recovered, what happens if he goes down again? Can Dave Gettleman envision a LB core with Thomas Davis, Kuechly and Peppers ready to attack the line of scrimmage? Peppers, for his age, has stayed relatively healthy throughout his career missing only six games. Another factor for the Panthers is that Peppers, now a LB has played the majority of his career as a DE. This is an area where the Panthers could use a veteran presence to pair on the other side of newly signed Charles Johnson.
No matter what Peppers decides to do during free agency in the back of his mind, he’s always a Panther. It would be nice for him to open and close his career where it all started.