The Chicago Bears have released veteran defensive end Julius Peppers, ending his four-year Windy City run.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted late Tuesday that the Bears are parting ways with the 33-year-old eight time Pro Bowler, just hours after the network reported the team had inked a five-year, $35 million deal with former Raiders star end Lamarr Houston.
The Bears spent several days trying to deal Peppers before springing into action. With Michael Bennett having already resigned with Super Bowl champion Seattle, the Bears quickly moved to secure Houston, who notched a career-high six sacks, 55 solo tackles and two forced fumbles last season.
“I’m honored to be joining an organization that has such rich football history,” the 26-year-old Houston told ChicagoBears.com. “The things that they’ve already accomplished are something that when you join this organization you hope you can live up to. You know that you’re expected to reach certain levels and standards while you’re playing for the Bears.
In this instance, Houston will be counted on to help heal a defense and pass rush that finished near the bottom in virtually every category last season. On average, the 29.9 points the Bears allowed were second the most surrendered after Minnesota and the 395 yards they allowed ranked behind only the Vikings and Cowboys.
Peppers joined the Bears in 2010 and received the largest contract ever given to a defensive player in franchise history. Right away, he lived up to all the hype before stumbling to just 46 tackles and 7.5 sacks last season.
The Bears also announced the re-signing middle linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year deal and the signing of free-agent safety Ryan Mundy to a two-year pact. As Brain Urlacher’s replacement, Williams played in six games last season and recorded 39 tackles and two sacks before suffering a season-ending arm injury.
“I love our defense,” said Williams. “It’s simple, but we play fast and just downhill. I know I still have a good amount of years left in me. I still have talent.”