The New England Patriots’ interest in the safety of Jabrill Peppers should have surprised no one.
During his five-year NFL career, he lined up at box safety, free safety, wide cornerback, slot cornerback, hybrid linebacker and even took a few shots on the defensive line. Peppers also has plenty of special teams experience, having compiled 117 career returns on punt and kick return duties.
As a result, Peppers is now a patriot…and that’s exactly where he wants to be.
The 26-year-old defensive back has found New England to be his ideal partner in terms of “program and culture”. In fact, those major factors led him to agree to a one-year, up to $5 million contract with the Pats at the end of March.
“I’ve always had a high regard for the Patriots,” Peppers told reporters via video conference Tuesday. “I came in knowing the expectations were going to be high. Knowing that you’re going to have to work hard.”
Peppers is no stranger to the kind of hard work he foresees in New England. He was selected in the first round by the Cleveland Browns [25th overall] in the 2017 NFL Draft. The former Michigan Wolverine played 29 games for the Browns in his first two years in the NFL. Meanwhile, Peppers started all 29 games, compiling 137 total tackles (six for loss), eight passes defended and two interceptions.
In 2019, Peppers was traded to the New York Giants, as part of the deal that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland. Peppers spent three seasons with the Giants, playing 32 total games and amassing 196 total tackles (15 for loss), 17 passes defended, 3.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. He suffered a torn ACL in October 2021, ending his season.
Despite the health setback, Peppers appears to be ready for action when the Patriots begin their offseason training schedule on April 18. “I had a partial tear in my ACL, so they had to go in there and fix it,” Peppers said. “I feel good and I haven’t had any setbacks, so hopefully we can continue.
With the Patriots seemingly confident enough in Peppers’ health to secure his services for 2022, they now look forward to the contributions he is likely to make on the field in 2022. As mentioned earlier, the Michigan product has l experience throughout the defensive field. , as well as the first seven. While he may be more comfortable in the box, Peppers looks forward to sharing time in that position with fellow security guards Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger, with whom he shares comparable traits.
“[I can be] another asset they can move around, disguise their appearance… it’s great to have guys with similar skills because you can confuse the opposition. Peppers also expressed his willingness to contribute to the special teams in the second leg, adding that he is “here to do whatever the coaches need him to do.” His presence should strengthen both the Patriots’ defensive backfield, as well as the core of their special teams.
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In addition to his versatility, Peppers likely caught the attention of the organization thanks in part to his new offensive assistant Joe Judge. The safety played the last two seasons under Judge, when he was the Giants head coach. Peppers noted that the two had a great relationship and that he was looking forward to reuniting with Judge. However, he expressed slight surprise that his former head coach works primarily with the Patriots’ offense.
“A little,” Peppers said of her curiosity about the judge’s new role. “But in New York, he’s always leaned towards offense and favored them a bit more, so that’s not too much of a surprise…
“It will be interesting to see him from that side and talk to him a little in a slap”
Although there were several factors in Jabrill Peppers’ decision to choose New England as his home on the pitch, he ultimately landed with the Patriots due to his desire to play for head coach Bill Belichick. A longtime Pats HC fan, Peppers became interested in seeking Belichick’s conservatorship when he visited Foxboro during the 2021 preseason when the Patriots and Giants were in joint workouts.
“The state these guys were in so early on…how disciplined they were to handle things. It didn’t matter if it was 1st, 2nd, 3rd team, everyone knew they had a job to do. do,” Peppers said.
It was this type of dedication that led him to “jump at the chance” to play for Belichick.
“I just can’t wait to learn [from Coach Belichick]. He has seen a lot of the ball, coached in many eras. I’m excited to pick his mastermind and learn how he breaks down opposing offenses.
As Peppers prepares for his first season in New England, he expects his experience with the Patriots to be different, but rewarding. His previous stops in Cleveland and New York, as well as his time at the University of Michigan, will serve him well in this capacity. Having recently played for Judge in New York will help ease the “culture shock” that many veterans face in their new surroundings. However, he believes his personal work ethic has prepared him for life in Foxboro for 2022, and possibly beyond.
“I think I’m a tough, hard-nosed, hard-working worker,” Peppers said with a knowing smile. “I still think my best ball is in front of me. I think I’ll fit in pretty well with the guys here – the mindset.”
In short, Jabrill Peppers arrived in New England ready to “do his job”.
What’s more patriotic than that?