Headed Home… pic.twitter.com/zXjPCmKMBS
— Carl Carey, PhD (@CarlCareyPhD) March 10, 2017
Homecomings in sports have been popular in recent years. Arguably most significant return in the last five years was LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 after leaving them for the Miami Heat in 2010.
Julius Peppers isn’t often compared to James, but he will also be returning to his home state and to the franchise that drafted him.
On Friday, Peppers agent Carl Carey announced on Twitter that Peppers was “headed home” to the Carolina Panthers. In recent days, members of the Panthers including former teammate defensive end Charles Johnson was actively recruiting Peppers to return to Panthers, where he had a ton of success.
The Panthers selected the nine-time Pro Bowler in the 2002 NFL Draft. In his first season, Peppers finished with 12 sacks and was named the 2002 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Peppers go on to be named to five Pro Bowl before leaving the Panthers for the Chicago Bears after the 2009 season.
In Chicago, Peppers continued to have success as he logged 37.5 sacks and made three more Pro Bowl appearances before being released by the Bears after the 2013 season.
In 2014, Peppers signed a three-year contract with the Green Bay Packers as he converted from defensive end to a 3-4 linebacker. In three seasons with the Packers, Peppers recorded 24. 5 sacks forced eight fumbles and two interceptions. He also was named to the 2015 Pro Bowl while in Green Bay.
At age 37, Peppers is no longer one of the league’s best pass rushers, but he can still be a productive player as shown by the 7.5 sacks he had a season ago. The three-time All-Pro will join a talented and deep Panthers line that has Mario Addison, Charles Johnson and Kony Ealy as their defensive ends. Carolina finished second in the NFL in total sacks in 2016 as the Panthers picked up 47 on the season.
Peppers was born in Wilson, N.C. and attended the University of North Carolina from 1998 to 2001. While he was a Tar Heel, Peppers played for both football and basketball.
In 2000, Peppers and the Tar Heels made the Final Four. Peppers is still one of two players (Donovan McNabb) to play in a Final Four and a Super Bowl.