When the Bears signed Julius Peppers to a six-year contract in 2010, it was perceived as one of the biggest free agent signings in team history.
A five-time Pro Bowler with 81 sacks in 8 seasons by the time he signed with Chicago, Peppers had established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the league. He was a 6-foot-6, 283-pound monster who blended a shredded frame with a diverse pass-rushing arsenal and rare athleticism for his size. He already had six seasons with double-digit sacks since being selected with the second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, and he projected as an impact player for an already talented Bears defense.
An impact player he certainly was. Peppers was a Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro in his first season with the Bears, tallying 54 tackles, 8 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles, as well as an impressive two interceptions and 9 pass deflections for a defensive lineman. His presence helped play a big role in Chicago’s improvement as a defense in 2010, one that propelled them to the NFC Championship game.
Peppers would only play for four seasons in Chicago, but he made an indelible mark on the Bears’ defense. With 37.5 sacks and three Pro Bowls during his time with the team, he was a dominant force off the edge on a yearly basis. Though he was released at 34 years old after the 2013 season to free up cap space, Peppers would go on to play in the NFL for five more years, notching 41 sacks and showing very little signs of slowing down near the twilight of his career.
The likes of Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael and William Perry won over the hearts of Bears fans alike in the 1980s. Doug Atkins was a dominant pass-rusher whose physical dominance was before his time, too. However, they admittedly came much before my time. I would be lying to say that Peppers — a physical specimen who dominated for Chicago — wasn’t my favorite defensive lineman in Bears history, even if he didn’t play for the team as long as some of the franchise’s greats.
Now it’s your turn.
Who is your all-time favorite Bears defensive lineman?