Julius Peppers undecided, but leaning toward playing in 2018

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One of the NFL’s oldest defensive players seems poised to play again in 2018.

Julius Peppers, the 38-year-old defensive end who becomes a free agent next month, is leaning toward playing this year, a source close to Peppers told the Charlotte Observer.

Last year Peppers played on a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Panthers. He had previously spent three seasons with the Packers, played four years for the Bears before that, and played the first eight years of his career with the Panthers.

Part of Peppers’ uncertainty could be about seeing what kind of contract offers he gets. He’s obviously not going to make the kind of money at age 38 that he made when he was one of the highest-paid players in the league for much of his 20s and 30s, but he may very well think that after an 11-sack season, he deserves more than $3.5 million.

Most indications are that Peppers would like to finish his career where he began it in Carolina, so he may wait to see how committed the Panthers are to him before making any decisions. It could be hard for a team that is currently for sale and has an interim G.M. to show just how committed it is to Peppers, but if he’s convinced that he and the franchise are on the same page, it would make sense for him to play another year in Carolina.