Inside the Panthers

Julius Peppers to the Panthers? Charles Johnson says he’ll recruit his former teammate

Could Green Bay Packers free agent defensive end Julius Peppers (56) return to the Carolina Panthers, where he started his career? Charles Johnson says he’s strongly in favor.
Could Green Bay Packers free agent defensive end Julius Peppers (56) return to the Carolina Panthers, where he started his career? Charles Johnson says he’s strongly in favor. AP

The ink was barely dry on Charles Johnson’s new contract when the Panthers defensive end began lobbying for the team to add another veteran edge-rusher with strong Carolina ties.

Johnson said he always tells general manager Dave Gettleman and assistant GM Brandon Beane to keep adding reinforcements to the defensive line.

And there aren’t many additions who could both push the pocket – and move the meter among the Panthers’ fan base – more than Julius Peppers.

“Like I tell Gettleman and Beaner, ‘Keep stacking the D-line. Keep bringing in good people for D-line,’” Johnson said on a conference call Tuesday. “I’ll even root for them to bring Pep back. If they can bring Julius back, I’m all aboard.”

Johnson said he hasn’t reached out to Peppers, whose agent said this week that Peppers plans to play a 16th season.

“I haven’t yet,” Johnson said. “But I’m going to start recruiting him.”

Peppers, 37, was the Panthers’ first-round draft choice in 2002 and spent his first eight seasons in Charlotte, going to five Pro Bowls over that span.

The North Carolina native and two-sport start at UNC nearly returned to Carolina in 2014, when he was deep in negotiations with the Panthers before signing a three-year deal with Green Bay.

Peppers’ agent told ESPN he’s talked with the Packers about Peppers re-signing with Green Bay.

But Johnson says he hopes Peppers and the Panthers can’t work something out.

“From a personal opinion and as a friend of his, I just want to see him retire as a Panther,” Johnson said. “I just think him coming back for a year and retiring as a Panther, what better career for him to have, retiring in his home?”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said at the combine last week that re-signing Johnson would not preclude the Panthers from adding another established pass rusher.

Stay tuned, as Johnson’s puts his lobbying talents to work.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

  Comments