Last night, Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reported — through league sources — that Carolina DE Julius Peppers has been targeted by the Chicago Bears.
There has been plenty of speculation that Peppers, who is already 30 years old, will demand top dollar, in the range of $35-40 million in guaranteed coin after he hits the open market next month. Sounds like a high number for Bears GM Jerry Angelo to pay out, and an even higher number for a franchise such as the Bears — who are not big spenders in free agency.
But, as we all know, the Bears have a major need at DE, along with the free safety position on Lovie Smith’s defense. And, I can understand why the Bears would have interest.
Peppers played under Ron Meeks in Carolina last year in the exact same scheme that Chicago runs. Meeks was with Lovie in St. Louis as the team’s defensive backs coach, and his principles and techniques of the defense are a carbon copy of what is taught in Chicago.
Lovie has publicly stated that the Bears are not going to change defensive philosophies or alter their schemes. They are and will be a Tampa 2 team that uses some man coverage and pressures with their zone blitzes. And, on third downs — where Peppers will make his money — the Bears will almost exclusively be a Tampa 2 defense, rushing four and dropping seven into coverage.
That is why Peppers’ name looks so attractive right now to the Bears. A defensive end that can defeat the majority of NFL tackles and hit the quarterback? It makes the secondary better and it produces turnovers — something that is the driving force behind the Tampa 2 scheme.
But, as good as that sounds, isn’t this going to be case of Chicago taking a major — major — money risk for a player that is known to take plays off? How does $40 million up front look when you turn on the tape and see a player who looks lazy? There is no denying his talent, his size or his ability to win one-on-one matchups. However, this is Albert Haynesworth-type coin we are talking about.
A ton of money to spend on one player. The Bears could go a different route and look at Green Bay’s Aaron Kampman — who I see as an ideal solution to their problems — and get a free safety, plus a special teams player with that amount of up front cash.
We will know more come March 5 and after we hear some talk this weekend at the combine in Indianapolis. But for today, Peppers is still hot, and it sounds like the Bears will give him a look.
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