During his introductory press conference Tuesday, veteran safety Jabrill Peppers needed only two words to explain why he signed a free-agent contract with the Patriots.

Culture and scheme.

“It’s no secret the dynasty that New England has been,” the 25-year-old said via Zoom. “I wanted to come learn from Bill (Belichick). It’s familiarity with the system, as I’ve played for a couple of his descendants. And Joe Judge, I have a familiarity there. I love Joe. He came back to New England, and I wanted to come join him.”

Judge coached Peppers during his two-year tenure with the Giants that ended last January. Last season, Peppers was limited to six games after partially tearing his ACL in October. Peppers said he’s yet to experience a setback in his recovery, which could put him on track to participate in training camp.

Over his last full year in New York, the highly athletic safety set career highs in tackles (91), pass breakups (11) and sacks (2.5) playing in a system devised by one-time Pats assistant and Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Peppers repeatedly mentioned his desire to be a versatile piece in Belichick’s defense.

“His understanding of the game, what he’s done for the game, the moment that I had an opportunity to come learn from (Belichick),” Peppers said, “I definitely wanted to jump at it.”


After starting his career as a first-round free safety in Cleveland, Peppers moved closer to the line of scrimmage with the Giants. During the 2020 season, he played more than 300 snaps inside the box, more than 200 over the slot and another 143 at free safety, per Pro Football Focus. He now adds to one of the team’s best and deepest positions, with Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips all returning after starting last year.

“I just want to go into that safety room and be another asset that they can move around, disguise looks, different things,” Peppers said. “It’s great having guys with similar skill sets because you can confuse opposing coaches and quarterbacks.”

Competing against the Patriots during joint practices last summer, Peppers said he noticed how well conditioned and disciplined the team was. But nowadays nothing, he claimed, has surprised him about how the team operates.

Peppers signed a one-year contract worth $2 million last month that includes $1.35 million guaranteed and an extra $3 million in playing-time incentives. He should be in the mix to return punts, after former Patriots punt returner Gunner Olszewski left for a free-agent deal with the Steelers.

“Whatever the team needs me to do,” Peppers said. “I’m a guy who likes having the ball in my hands, and hopefully making some impact plays with it. But at the end of the day, it’s whatever they need me to do.”

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