Packers pick up Peppers; Nicks to Colts

Mar. 16, 2014 @ 01:10 AM

The Green Bay Packers defense has gotten a big jolt from a big name: Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.

The ex-Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears defensive end signed a three-year deal with the Packers on Saturday morning, bringing one of the NFL's best pass-rushers to a team that has historically avoided major free-agent splashes.

The move was first reported by ESPN. Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, posted photos to his Twitter account of Peppers signing the deal and standing on the still-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field before the team announced it officially later in the day.

The Packers would not make Peppers available to media.

"I haven't won a championship," Peppers told the Packers' website. "That's where my focus is. I feel like the team is set up to make a run and I feel I can help get it there."

Peppers went to the Super Bowl in 2003 with the Panthers, losing to the New England Patriots.

The 34-year-old Peppers was released Tuesday by the Bears in a cost-cutting move. Peppers would have counted $18.183 million against Chicago's salary cap this season and had a base salary of $13 million.

Peppers played in all 64 of the Bears' games the past four seasons, posting 37.5 sacks. His 7.5 sacks last season were his fewest since a career-low 2.5 sacks in 2007, but he still would have led the Packers in that category in 2012.

Hakeem Nicks finds good fit in Indianapolis

Hakeem Nicks took the best bet he could find in free agency.

He's promising to cash in. Less than 24 hours after the former Giants receiver agreed to a one-year deal with Indianapolis, Nicks said he's so confident in his own skills that it was an easy decision.

"I didn't want to get myself in a long-term situation that I didn't like. This is the best situation for me, a great organization and a chance to come in and show them what I can do and what I can bring to the table," he said during a conference call Saturday. "I believe it's going to pay off."

The Colts are counting on it.

A year ago, they risked about $2.5 million on another veteran free agent with a first-round pedigree to help Indy's still young receiving contingent. But Darrius Heyward-Bey caught only 29 passes for 309 yards and one touchdown and was relegated mostly to special teams duty by the end of the season.

This time, they may have an even bigger need at receiver.

Perennial Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne is trying to return from a torn ACL in his right knee at age 35, and young tight end Dwayne Allen is trying to come back from a hip injury that put him on season-ending injured reserve in September. Heyward-Bey is now a free agent, too, and is unlikely to return.

That leaves Indy with emerging star T.Y. Hilton, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen — who were all part of Indy's 2012 rookie class — and Da'Rick Rogers, an undrafted rookie in 2013 who wound up giving the Colts a late season boost after Wayne's injury.