Obviously, he was a huge free-agency pickup and definitely was a major part of a couple extremely talented defenses. However, the 2013 season was different. Sure, the entire defense took a major step back, especially with injuries ravaging the interior defensive line, but Peppers also seemed a step slower. Was he hurt? If he was, he didn’t mention it.
In 16 games played, Peppers only had seven sacks, the second-lowest total in his 13-year career, and the lowest he’d accumulated with the Bears.
Of course, once the offseason rolled around, due to his lack of production as well as the last couple years of a monster contract that would have the Bears’ salary cap in binds, Peppers was released. And to Green Bay Packers fans I say: sorry, not sorry. I watched every second that Peppers played last year, and, well, you shouldn’t be as excited as you seem to be.
But anyway, what happened next was unexpected.
Jared Allen, being relieved of the nightmare that was the 2013 Minnesota Vikings, was trying to find the right match to continue his career. When rumors started that he was going to take less money to join the Seattle Seahawks, that seemed like a sure thing. Why not join the defending Super Bowl champions which also happen to boast the best defense in the league?
Despite all apparent logic, Allen chose to sign with the Bears instead. And though Allen himself is not a young man anymore, he will prove to be a huge upgrade over Peppers.
In the last four years in which Peppers played for the Bears, he had 37.5 sacks and 175 tackles. Those numbers average out to about 9.5 sacks and 44 tackles per year.
Allen, on the other hand, racked in 56.5 sacks and 223 tackles. That comes to about 14 sacks and 56 tackles. Clearly, Allen has been a much more productive player, and also hasn’t shown signs of regression as he hasn’t had under double-digit sacks since 2006. Peppers, contrarily, has had less than 10 sacks in three seasons since 2006.
What’s even more promising is how Allen is feeling right now. He’s out of a situation in Minnesota where he was essentially the only truly great player on defense, unless you consider Everson Griffen someone like that. I do not, and he was grossly overpaid — but whatever. Regardless, Allen is on a much better defense now after the offseason they’ve had — bringing in guys like Lamarr Houston and Willie Young to help bolster the DL — and he feels rejuvenated at this juncture in his career with a new team that he believes in.
“…for me it was finding a spot where a) I have a chance to win; and b) I believe in everything they’re selling,” Allen told the Chicago Tribune. “I feel re-energized. You can get in a place so long to where you find yourself just going through the motions.”
Such was the case in Minnesota, where he was just going through the motions, yet still racked up 11.5 sacks last year on a defense with no help. This year will be a different story where he’ll have a supporting cast on a much better overall team.
While it was tough to see Peppers go, it was clear he’s lost a step and it was definitely the right decision to cut him and his large salary. Allen is here on a much more economical pay scale, but will still prove to be immensely more productive than Peppers was during his tenure in Chicago.