What Julius Peppers Return Means for Packers at Linebacker
Packers fans may be at ease after linebacker Julius Peppers said he intended to return for the 2016 season. However, Peppers will help the Packers for this year but makes things more difficult for the next two months and after the 2016 season.
With Peppers returning, it leaves a few questions unanswered and uncertainty in the future. Who plays outside linebacker in the future and who will be available to fill the hole when Peppers retires?
Both are questions that could be answered through free agency next week or the draft in April. Solutions to those questions become more difficult with Peppers returning this season.
It's unlikely the Packers will want to or even be able to resign both Nick Perry and Mike Neal. Perry is stronger against the run and has flashes of a good pass rusher but struggles in space against the spread offense.
Neal is the much better pass rusher between the two but he's not really a linebacker. He's an average stand up pass rusher and Green Bay already has a more productive pass rusher with Peppers returning.
Perry is the better resign but will more than likely want a pay day. Green Bay won't be able to sign another significant pass rusher at that position this offseason with Peppers return.
Clay Matthews is set for $13.75 this season but is supposedly going back to the outside and now leaves a giant gap in the middle of the defense. Peppers is penciled in for $10.5 million against the cap this season which means that Green Bay cannot afford to wrap more money up at outside linebackers.
The Packers now need outside linebacker help for the 2017 season but also have a dire need at inside linebacker for this season.
Green Bay should seriously try to sign Danny Trevathan or at least Jerrell Freeman in free agency. They're both proven inside linebackers and are good in pass coverage, which is a must with Green Bay's 2-4-5 defensive scheme.
Trevathan would be a huge signing for the Packers because of the similarities in defensive schemes between Denver and Green Bay. Trevathan had two excellent outside linebackers/pass rushers in Denver between Demarcus Ware and Von Miller. He would be afforded that same luxury in Green Bay with Matthews and Peppers.
If McCarthy's hint about shocking in free agency is true, then the Packers should definitely throw some money at Trevathan this offseason in hopes to secure the inside linebacker position.
The best option at outside linebacker for the future is now the draft because it's highly unlikely anyone will sign and split time with Peppers. Green Bay can draft someone then bring someone in to be groomed by defensive coordinator Dom Capers this season.