Julius Peppers opts against retirement, returns to Panthers on one-year deal

Julius Peppers will delay his Hall of Fame candidacy for at least one more year. 

On Wednesday, the Panthers announced that the legendary pass rusher will return to the team on a one-year contract, which will mark his 10th season in Carolina and his 17th in the NFL. In January, Peppers didn't provide an answer about this future in the NFL, but after spending the past few months considering retirement, he committed to at least one more season.

One more season should give Peppers a chance to move past Kevin Greene on the all-time sacks leaderboard. As it stands, Peppers ranks fourth all-time with 154.5 sacks, only 5.5 behind Greene for third. Since 2015, Peppers has averaged nearly 10 sacks per season. So, Reggie White (198) and Bruce Smith (200) are likely out of reach for the 38-year-old. 

For the Panthers, getting Peppers back for the 2018 season is a huge offseason win. As the Panthers' announcement noted, Peppers has missed only two of 256 career games with an injury. So they can expect him to be out there for a full season barring a freak injury.

Despite his age, he still finished with 11 sacks last season -- his highest-total since securing 11.5 sacks with the Bears in 2012 -- which tied for the team lead. Fellow defensive end Mario Addison also registered 11 sacks. That means the Panthers, who did lose defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to the Bills in free agency, will be bringing back their top two sack creators in 2018.

Last season, the Panthers' defense ranked seventh in yards allowed, 11th in points allowed, and seventh in DVOA. Though they watched defensive coordinator Steve Wilks take the Cardinals' coaching job, the Panthers' defense figures to remain a strength heading into 2018. The Panthers also signed cornerback Bashaud Breeland to bolster their secondary, which our Will Brinson called "maybe the most underrated signing of free agency" due to the nature of his contract.

The Panthers haven't made any splash signings so far, but getting Peppers back and adding Breeland are two under the radar moves that should help them keep pace with the other playoff contenders in their division.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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