The Bears on Tuesday informed veteran defensive end Julius Peppers that they are terminating his contract.
"We appreciate Julius' contributions to the Bears over the last four years," said general manager Phil Emery. "He was a leader on our defense starting every game since coming to Chicago. His accomplishments over his NFL career place him among the best defensive ends over the past 20 years. The Chicagoland community has benefited greatly from his quiet generosity. We wish him the best."
Peppers signed with the Bears on the first day of free agency in 2010 after spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Panthers. He was selected by Carolina with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft out of North Carolina.
Peppers, who turned 34 in January, was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons with the Bears. Last year he compiled 48.5 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception, four tackles-for-loss, four pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The release of Peppers, who was signed through the 2015, frees up considerable salary cap space for the Bears, who agreed to terms with defensive end Lamarr Houston, linebackers D.J. Williams and Jordan Senn, and safety Ryan Mundy on the first day of free agency Tuesday.