The Julius Peppers era in Chicago is officially over.
The Bears announced on Tuesday the release of the high-priced defensive end, freeing up more than $9 million in cap space and cutting the cord on the six-year, $84 million contract Peppers signed after leaving the Panthers in 2009.
Peppers, as we've documented plenty of times, simply was paid too much money, had gotten too old, and wasn't producing enough on the field to warrant what he was being paid.
“We appreciate Julius' contributions to the Bears over the last four years," Bears GM Phil Emery said in a statement. "He was a leader on our defense starting every game since coming to Chicago. His accomplishments over his NFL career place him among the best defensive ends over the past 20 years.
"The Chicagoland community has benefited greatly from his quiet generosity. We wish him the best."
Peppers is now one of two stalwarts of the pass-rushing community, along with DeMarcus Ware, released from their teams because of excessive salaries.
While neither is in their prime, they are both very much capable of putting up stats, particularly if they land on a contender with a strong defense.
Peppers is a less attractive option because of his age than Ware, but he'll still see some action in free agency.