Even though the Tom Brady era is long over, the New England Patriots remain an attractive destination for NFL players. Just ask safety Jabrill Peppers, who joined the team on a one-year, $2 million free agency pact last month.
While multiple factors impacted his decision making, the chance to play for head coach Bill Belichick is one of the most prominent reasons why Peppers is a Patriot now.
“Playing for Bill, his understanding of the game, what he’s done for the game, the moment I had an opportunity to come learn from him, I definitely wanted to jump at it,” Peppers said during a media conference call on Tuesday, when asked about his motivations behind signing with New England.
Originally joining the NFL as a first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2017, Peppers spent the last three seasons with the New York Giants. During his time in the Big Apple, the 26-year-old appeared in 32 games, played a versatile starter-level role within the Giants’ secondary, and was voted a team captain.
He also built a close relationship with former New York head coach Joe Judge along the way.
A long-time Patriots assistant under Belichick, Judge coached the Giants for two seasons before his dismissal earlier this year. He eventually returned to New England to work as an offensive assistant, and his presence was another selling point for Peppers.
“It’s no secret the dynasty that New England has been,” he said. “I wanted to come learn from Bill. It’s familiarity with the system, as I’ve played for a couple of his descendants. And Joe Judge, I have familiarity there. I love Joe. He came back to New England, and I wanted to come join him. Now we’re here, and I’m just excited to learn from some of the best coaches in the game and be implemented wherever they need me.”
Judge’s tenure with the Giants was a disappointment; he went 6-10 in his first season at the helm and 4-13 in his second. However, it appears that the experience of working under Judge and in a Patriots-like system was a positive one for Peppers.
“Me and Joe, we have a great relationship. Obviously, I wanted to continue that. He was here,” the veteran defensive back said.
“Me wanting to play for Bill. Overall, just the culture, man, and wanting to come learn from the best coaches in the game. They like a three-safety look, they know how to use multiples, and I’m already familiar with the system. I thought it was a no-brainer.”