Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers didn't reach any of the salary escalators in his contract from last season, so in 2015 he will make up to $9.5 million in salary and bonuses, as his contract signed last year originally called for.
Peppers had $2 million in escalators based on his performance in 2014, but didn't achieve any of them. According to a source with access to NFL salary information, Peppers would have added $750,000 if he'd had 12 sacks and the Packers had won the Super Bowl. He also would have picked up $250,000 if he'd made the Pro Bowl, and another $1 million if he'd been defensive player of the year.
That means Peppers' original 2015 pay remains intact. He's scheduled to make $8.5 million in base salary, $500,000 in a workout bonus, and another $500,000 in per game roster bonuses.
Peppers' salary-cap number for 2015 is $12 million.
At the NFL scouting combine last week, coach Mike McCarthy was adamant that Peppers, 35, will be back with the Packers next season despite his high pay and advanced age. Peppers is a good candidate for a contract restructure if the Packers need salary cap room – they could convert some of his salary into a signing bonus, which would moves some of the costs into the 2016 cap – though they rarely employ that tactic because they prefer pay-as-you-go contracts.
"I must be the only one who doesn't understand why that question keeps coming up," McCarthy said last week when asked whether he expects Peppers back this season.
"Yeah, I definitely believe Julius Peppers is going to be here. He was very comfortable. He had a great year. He made an impact both on the field and in the locker room. It was unique to get to know Julius Peppers through the process of once he signed as a free agent. I think he looks great in green and gold."