The 38-year-old defensive end had 33 tackles, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season, extending his remarkable streak to 10 consecutive years with at least seven sacks. He primarily saw the field on passing downs in 2017, playing 50.1 percent of Carolina's defensive snaps. Another double-digit sack campaign is a lot to ask for from Peppers while he plays on only a part-time basis, but the veteran has proven that isn't out of the question. He had shoulder surgery in early February and expects to be back at full strength for the start of training camp.
Peppers (shoulder) is "leaning toward" playing in 2018 but isn't thought to have interest in signing with a team other than Carolina, Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Peppers -- who was born in North Carolina and attended both high school and college in the state -- spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Panthers after the team selected him in the first round of the 2002 draft. He was a force to be reckoned with during his time there, earning the 2002 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award along with two first-team All-Pro (2004, 2006) and two second-team All-Pro selections (2008, 2009). After spending the subsequent seven seasons of his career with Chicago and Green Bay, Peppers returned to the Panthers in 2017 and proved he still has plenty left in the tank after tying for the team lead with 11 sacks. While the 38-year-old free agent is approaching what could be his 17th season in the NFL and just underwent shoulder surgery to address an undisclosed injury he's reportedly been playing with for "quite a while," it would seemingly be a mutually beneficial decision for the storied defensive end to return for another season in a role as a situational pass rusher.
Peppers underwent surgery on his right shoulder Thursday.
Peppers posted on his Instagram account after the procedure that "everything went smooth," so the expectation is that he'll be at or near full strength when NFL training camps open in the summer. The veteran pass rusher, who will hit free agency this offseason, has yet to announce if he'll return for a 17th NFL campaign. If he does decide to play in 2018, Peppers should have no shortage of suitors interested in signing him to a short-term deal after he racked up 33 tackles and 11 sacks over 16 games while serving in a rotational role for the Panthers last season.
Peppers finished with 33 tackles (21 solo), 11 sacks, two fumble recoveries and two fumbles forced in 16 games played this season.
Peppers continued to evade father time, as he not only posted his tenth double-digit sack campaign at age 37, but moved into fourth all-time in the category in the process. Clearly still menace off the edge, Peppers tied teammate Mario Addison for the Panthers' team lead, with both players ranking just outside the top 10 league-wide. Peppers can rest assured knowing he's destined for the Hall of Fame whenever he opts to retire, but after such effectiveness, it's worth wondering whether he plans to continue to play as he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Peppers marked three tackles (one solo) and one sack Sunday against the Buccaneers.
With his 11th sack of the season, Peppers reached his final sack incentive and cashed in on $250,000 -- adding to the $500,000 he earned from his previous sack benchmarks of seven and nine. This is quite a remarkable accomplishment, seeing as he played just 40 of 67 defensive snaps Sunday, and he's been strictly a situational pass rusher all season. With a crucial seeding game against the Falcons on the horizon, expect Peppers to have ample opportunities to add to his sack total.
|2014||Green Bay Packers||16||44||29.0||15||7||2||101||50.5||52||2||11|
|2015||Green Bay Packers||16||37||25.0||12||10.5||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2016||Green Bay Packers||16||23||15.0||8||7.5||0||0||0.0||0||0||3|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2014||Green Bay Packers||16||0||0||4||0||3||2||3||0|
|2015||Green Bay Packers||16||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|2016||Green Bay Packers||16||0||0||2||0||1||0||1||0|