The Chicago Bears are once again active during the start of NFL free agency. Entering the start of the signing period, Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamatt Houston was viewed as the top free agent defensive end.
After missing out on Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks, the Bears targeted Houston above all other DEs, including Michael Johnson. The Bears would eventually sign Houston to a five-year, $35 million deal includes $15 million guaranteed with $21 million paid in the first three years.
Once hat contract was signed, it was only a matter of time before the Bears parted ways with Julius Peppers. It looks as though they've just cut him:
LM: #Bears have informed DE Julius Peppers they are terminating his contract.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 11, 2014ers.
Release of #Bears DE Julius Peppers clears $9,816,665 in cap space. Creates $14 million cash savings.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 11, 2014
Peppers was on the trading block prior to being released, but no one was going to take on that contract. Peppers joined the Bears in 2010 and received the largest contract ever given to a defensive player. He lived up to the hype for his first few seasons, but his play fell off a cliff in 2013, finishing with just seven sacks.
At age 34, it's hard to see Peppers getting a deal with anyone that guarantees him significant money beyond this season. The Cincinnati Bengals have thrived off signing guys like Peppers, but that was when Mike Zimmer was here.
He's a master at freeing-up pass-rushers like Peppers, even late in their career. I'd look for the Minnesota Vikings to dangle a one-year deal in front of him that would pay him $3-5 million, maybe even with a number of incentives in it.
It would be unfortunate to see the 8-time Pro Bowler's career end this offseason.