Despite doubts, Peppers can significantly help Packers

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Despite doubts, Peppers can significantly help Packers

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Ted Thompson has rarely made significant free agent signings in his ten years as Green Bay’s general manager. With the exception of Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, the free agents Thompson has signed have been temporary fixes and rarely had major impacts.

After the first two days of this year’s free agency, most of the top players available had already been signed, and it appeared as if Thompson was content to wait for the draft to better the team. But seemingly out of nowhere, the Packers signed ex-Bear Julius Peppers to fix their struggling defense.

Cue Packers fans rejoicing that Green Bay signed a well-known free agent. A name as big as Peppers has not been signed since Woodson almost a decade ago. But while this sense of joy spread throughout some fans, there were others who would point out the potential risk in the signing.

It is true that Peppers is a 34-year-old defensive lineman who is undeniably on the back end of his career. It is also true that he tallied just seven sacks in 2013, the second lowest total of his 12-year career. And it is probably true that his Pro-Bowl caliber days are over. In spite of all these potential flaws, Ted Thompson made a gutsy signing that could pay huge dividends for the Packers.

In Green Bay, Peppers will likely rush the quarterback opposite Clay Matthews. While he was in Chicago, Peppers was often double-teamed because he was the greatest threat to the opposing quarterback. With Matthews on the other side, an offense cannot afford to double-team both players, and will likely focus more on the younger, quicker Matthews.

This means that Peppers will be given more one-on-one opportunities, which could lead to an increase in production from last year. Even if teams choose to double team Peppers, that would still benefit Green Bay by leaving Matthews alone.

Even though Peppers only had seven sacks last year, that same number would have ranked second on the Packers team (only behind Matthews). So even if Peppers matches the second-lowest total in his career, he would still be providing an improvement for Green Bay’s defense.

Other circumstances might allow Peppers to contribute more during the 2014 season. He will be reunited with his line coach from his days in Carolina, which may provide extra motivation for him. Finally, Peppers has had an illustrious 12 year career and he ranks 17th on the all-time sacks list. The only thing that could improve his career is a Super Bowl ring.

With Aaron Rodgers on offense, the only thing Green Bay needs to continue to be a legitimate Super Bowl threat is a stronger defense. Because Peppers is eyeing a title, Green Bay’s defense should receive a much-needed boost and could allow the Packers to reach another Super Bowl.

Ted Thompson rarely takes risks in free agency, and it is yet to be seen whether Julius Peppers will pan out as Green Bay hopes he will. But as far as risks go in free agency, the Peppers signing has the potential to bolster Green Bay’s defense and make the team much better. This offseason appeased fans who wanted free agent acquisitions and brought in a veteran that can help a beleaguered Packers defense.

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