Packers LB Julius Peppers: 'Of course I can play another year'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A year ago, Julius Peppers left no doubt that he would return for another season.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old Green Bay Packers outside linebacker feels pretty much the same way right now.

“I feel great now,” Peppers said Thursday. “If I was making the decision today, yeah, of course I can play another year. But we’ll see. We’ll see when the time comes.”

Peppers is under contract for one more season, for less money ($8 million in salary and bonuses) than he made this year ($9.5 million). The Packers would have to count $2.5 million (Peppers’ remaining signing bonus proration) on next year’s salary cap if they released him, but they would wipe out the $8 million, meaning it would be a net savings of $5.5 million.

Coming off a 2.5-sack game last Sunday against the Raiders, there’s little reason to think general manager Ted Thompson would dump Peppers after this season. He’s a half-sack away from his ninth double-digit sack season. He moved into the top 10 in career sacks last week.

An injury, or perhaps winning the Super Bowl, could change Peppers’ mind. A year ago he said he knows he’s near the end of his career.

Peppers watched with great interest this week when Raiders 39-year-old safety Charles Woodson announced he would retire after this season.

“You think about it sometimes,” Peppers said. “I try not to think about it too much. You think about you can’t play forever. I’ll be 36 next year. I don’t know too many pass rushers playing at 40. So I guess in the next three or four years, that’ll be it. But as far as specifics, I really have no clue. I guess I’ll go until the body tells me to stop.”

Peppers said he’s gotten no indication about the Packers' plans for him next season. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has cut back on Peppers’ snaps this season. Last year he played nearly 75 percent of the defensive plays. This year he’s at 68.4 percent.

Head cach Mike McCarthy also gave him a rare day off from practice last month.

“I don’t think it makes that much difference,” Peppers said. “When you get into the game, you’re trying to win games. So you want your best players out there. So whether I play 40 snaps a game or 36, I don’t think it matters that much. In practice, they have cut back the reps in practice, trying to take care of us in practice. So that makes a difference, but I don’t necessarily know if it makes a difference in a game.”