Twice next season the Bears will see first hand how much gas eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers has left in his tank.
Due to declining production and an exorbitant salary, the Bears cut Peppers earlier this week rather than pay him a base salary of $13.9 million and incur an $18.1 million hit to the $133 million salary cap in 2014.
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Now he'll be playing for the Bears' oldest rival. The Green Bay Packers on Saturday morning gave the 34-year-old Peppers a three-year contract that could be worth as much as $30 million, including incentives. Peppers' base salary this year will be $8.5 million, and his deal includes $7.5 million in guaranteed money.
Peppers, a 12-year veteran, is the Packers' first major free-agent signing since they added Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson in 2006.
The 6-foot-7, 287-pound Peppers played four seasons with the Bears after signing a six-year, $84 million deal in free agency before the 2010 season. Peppers made $53.5 million as a Bear and had 38 sacks.
He made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons in Chicago, when he had 30 ½ sacks. But his sack total dropped to 7.5 last season, which was still tops on the Bears, who tied for the fewest sacks in the NFL with 31.
By cutting Peppers, the Bears saved $9.8 million under the cap. They have already signed two defensive ends in free agency, adding former Raider Lamarr Houston for $5 million over five years and ex-Lion Willie Young for $9 million over three years. Both are four-year veterans.
Houston had a career-best 6 sacks last season, while Young had 3. Houston has 16 ½ career sacks, and Young has 6. Peppers has 119.
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