Panthers Peppers Problem Possibly Projects in Patriots' Plans?
posted at 4/17/2009 12:02 PM EDT
Go ahead and try to say that fast 5 times!!
Don't expect Julius Peppers to be a New England Patriot in 2009.
The Carolina Panthers have a huge mess on their hands. It is similar to what the Patriots had to deal with in the Matt Cassel matter. Like Cassel, Peppers is an UFA. Like Cassel, the pro-bowl calibre DE is coming off a very good year, in which he tallied a career high 14.7 sacks.
Like the Patriots, the Panther were faced with a decision. Do they franchise Peppers, and thereby put themselves on the hook to pay him ungodly money ($16.7 mil.) for the upcoming season? Or, do they let him go...clear his cap space, and move on?
Like the Patriots, they choose the franchise route. But, unlike the Cassel situation, Peppers has complicated matters by refused to sign the $16.7mil. tender. As a result, the Panthers' hands have been tied. They are not allowed to negotiate a possible trade with another team. Only Peppers and his agent, Carl Carey, may do so. Furthermore, unlike Cassel, Peppers has listed only 4 teams for which he is willing to play...with the Patriots being the only AFC team on his list.
As a result, the Peppers problem has lingered. It has led to a disasterous off-season for the Panthers. Despite the fact that J.P. has failed to sign the offered one year tender, Carolina is nontheless saddled with a $16.7 cap charge. This brought about the release of starting CB Ken Lucas, and starting WR D.J. Hackett, in order to clear cap space. Furthermore, Carolina has lost several valuable reserves to free agency. Cap restricted as they are, they have not been able to replentish the losses by signing other free agents.
In retrospect, the Panthers would have been far better off by letting Peppers leave. He is 29 years old, and has expressed a desire to play OLB if a 3-4 defense. No team, including the Patriots, is going to pay the huge amount of money that Peppers seeks. The only way a deal will get done is if Peppers agrees to take a reduced rate to play elsewhere.
As for compensation, who would be willing to part with a premium draft choice for a high priced, 4-3 pro-bowl DE, who, at age 29, wants to convert to an OLB in a 3-4 defense? The only way Carolina can hope to salvage something from this mess is to significantly lower their compensation demands.
What possible solution can be reached? Seemingly, no team will, or should, agree to pay top dollar, and part with a top draft choice, to land JP. As a result, it would appear that the only option for Peppers will be to accept the $16.7mil. tender, and unhappily remain a Carolina Panther.
As for the Panthers, they are left to ponder the highly unlikely scenaio that JP's extreme unhappiness will not affect his play.http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=nfl&id=4074399