Julius Peppers didn't return to Carolina for the Derek Jeter treatment.
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"We haven't really talked about that," Peppers told local radio station WFNZ-AM on Wednesday, via The Charlotte Observer when asked about his role on the Panthers. "I can say this: It's not one of those situations where I'm coming back for a farewell tour. I'm coming back to play, and I'm coming back to try to make some things happen. So my expectation is to be out there and be productive."
Carolina certainly hopes so. Peppers has been fantastic for any age and hasn't seen the sharp decline so many players experience in their early 30s. Now 37, Peppers is coming off a strong finish in Green Bay where he logged 18 sacks and four forced fumbles in just two seasons.
Desperate for a return to playoff form, Carolina is betting on its 2015 formula: Add heady veteran players en masse in hopes they can wrangle a young team and direct them forward. Peppers should slot directly into the starting lineup at defensive end.
It's been amusing to watch Peppers deflect the sometimes eye-rolling deification of veteran NFLers who surpass expectations and just play. While a return to where it all started feels like a nostalgia grab, Peppers isn't ruling out playing at 38, either.
"Well, right now, I'm taking it one year at a time," he said. "At the end of the year if I still feel good, then why not?"