Green Bay Packers fans got a great, big surprise package when they woke up Saturday morning: Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers has signed with the team as a free agent.
The deal was first reported by ESPN's Josina Anderson. Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, later Tweeted the news and posted a photo of Peppers inside Lambeau Field on Twitter.
Julius Peppers is officially a Packer! pic.twitter.com/gheY8Yc5bD— Carl Carey, PhD (@CarlCareyPhD) March 15, 2014
The 34-year-old Peppers comes to the Packers after a four-year stint with the Chicago Bears and is the first major free-agent signing by general manager Ted Thompson, whose inactivity in the free agent market had made many Packers fans restless after players hit the open market earlier in the week.
Peppers signed a three-year contract with up to $30 million, according to ESPN. The deal calls for $7.5 million in guaranteed money and will pay Peppers $8.5 million in salary for the first year, Carey told ESPN's Anderson.
The Bears released Peppers earlier this week. Peppers' decision to sign with Green Bay means he will once again work with Mike Trgovac, the team's defensive line coach who was with the Carolina Panthers and served as Peppers' position coach in 2002 and the team's defensive coordinator from 2003 through 2008.
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.
Material from the Chicago Tribune via MCT Information Services was included in this report.