Is Julius Peppers worth a huge contract?

There’s no doubt that Julius Peppers will cash in on this year’s free agent market and in what should be a quieter-than-usual offseason, the defensive end would certainly be a huge catch.

But the question that all interested parties will inevitably be faced with is: Is Peppers even worth the price tag?

Peppers can be explosive at the point of attack and uses his speed to get off the edge to create havoc in an opponent’s backfield. He has great size and speed and can use a variety of techniques to disengage blockers and pressure the pocket. He’s also a better run defender than people give him credit for and simply put, he’s an athletic freak.

That’s the good, but here’s the bad. He has been known to take plays off, he’s highly inconsistent, and he can be unmotivated at times. He also just turned 30 and is the same player that virtually took an entire season off in 2007 when he finished with just 2.5 sacks (by far a career low) in 14 games.

Consider these stats from

Age 32 is a bit of a brick wall for defensive ends. Twenty-nine defensive ends are in the top 50 for career sacks. Those ends averaged 10 sacks at age 30, 9.8 sacks at age 31, but only 7.3 sacks at age 32. Only eight of those 29 reached double digit sacks at 32 and four were Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Michael Strahan and Chris Doleman-four of the top five leaders in career sacks. They totaled 54.5 sacks at age 32. The remaining 24 totaled 150 sacks and averaged just 6.3 at age 32.

Peppers is the best free agent on the market and given the position he plays, he might wind up becoming the highest paid defensive player in the league this offseason. But let’s assume that he’s the norm and not the exception when it comes to defensive ends. Is he worth the hefty price tag? Is it worth it for some team to fork over millions of dollars when he might only be productive for the next two years? Sure, he may average 10 sacks over the next two years, but what happens after that?

I realize all of this is hypothetical, but given Peppers’ history of inconsistent play, age, and price tag, he might not be worth a long-term investment in the end. In fact, he probably won’t be.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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