LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

NBC SPORTS - Julius Peppers wasn't a free agent at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. He now is.

The Bears have terminated Peppers' contract, a six-year, $84 million contract signed by the former Panthers defensive end in 2010.

"We appreciate Julius' contributions to the Bears over the last four years," G.M. Phil Emery said. "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 made $53.5 million in four seasons. The move avoids $14 million in total compensation for 2014, along with $16.5 million for 2015.

The second overall pick in the 2002 draft instantly becomes a free agent. It's unlikely that he'll be offered anything close to $14 million for 2014.

Read or Share this story: http://kare11.tv/1ixBE8B