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January 17, 2009

Agent: Peppers intrigued by 3-4 defense, ready to leave Panthers

   Agent Carl Carey  says Panthers’ defensive end Julius Peppers is ready to continue his NFL career with another team and won’t sign a long-term contract with the Panthers, now or in the future, but stresses that his discussions with general manager Marty Hurney have not been contentious.
   Here’s the full transcript of Observer staff writer Charles Chandler’s interview with Carey via phone Saturday morning:
Q: Does Julius prefer not to have the franchise tag him?
   A: Obviously, in a best-case scenario, we would not want to be franchised. But having said that, we understand that the team has its own interests that they have to protect and so the likely scenario is that the best case scenario for him may not be that (he is an unrestricted free agent). We understand the team has to protect their investment in him.
   Q: What has been the Panthers’ reaction?
   A: I will say this: I met with Marty (Hurney) here in Houston on Thursday. He was here for the East-West Shrine week. We met face to face and talked. Marty and I have a great business rapport and relationship and have had that since Julius entered the league. Marty and I have a seven-year business relationship. This is not something that is contentious. It is something that is truly amicable with me understanding that Marty has to do what he has to do to protect the team and its interests, and Marty understanding that I have to do what I have to do to protect the best interests of Julius. As far as reactions, it has been expressed to us that the desire of the Panthers would be for Julius to remain a Panther and retire a Panther. With that being their wish and their desire, obviously I would think that this news is disappointing to them.
   Q: Why does Julius feel he can’t reach his full potential with Carolina?
   A: Most people who have evaluated Julius, whether they’re experts in the game or even fans of the game, have recognized that he is a special athlete and Julius himself feels the same way about his God-given skills and talents on the field.
   While a person may look at his accolades over the years and see four Pro Bowls and an all-pro designation and NFC defensive player of the year award, (and) on paper it looks good. It looks like this guy has excelled, and he has. But we still believe that Julius has more.
   Most people who have evaluated him feel the same way, and Julius feels he has more. On paper, he’s been very successful. If I could give an analogy to you so you could understand it, it’s kind of like the kid that brings home a B-plus and is capable of an A. A B-plus isn’t bad, but it’s not what this particular kid is capable of. In this situation while Julius has performed very well, he has not reached his full potential.
   Julius feels he can thrive in another system. Perhaps a 3-4 (defense) will give him the opportunities he is seeking and will allow him to use his athletic ability to its fullest potential. He is seeking something different that will open him up some and allow him to be the disruptive force that he believes he has the potential to be.
   Julius has tremendous respect for the coaching staff. This is not a situation where Julius has wanted them to change anything for him. He has not tried to legislate what he wants in terms of the defense they run. He’s always viewed their defense as their defense. He has worked to try to contribute to his fullest ability in the defense that he’s in.
   What he’s saying is that he doesn’t want to change the Carolina Panthers’ defense because he respects the coaching staff and what they’re trying to accomplish.
   Q: So he definitely wants to play in a 3-4?
   A: That is, at this point, a preference. But, certainly, he feels that just another system in general also could give him an opportunity to grow and develop.
   Julius didn’t come to this decision without being a student of the game, in a sense. He’s had an opportunity to watch other defenses play and had some ideas about how he can be utilized in other systems. He has his own ideas about how he can be best utilized.
   This decision was not made in haste. It’s been something that he has contemplated for a while, but at the same time, Julius was very open to the possibilities of remaining with the team and finding out if he could fit within the defense and reach his full potential, and made a decision after the season that he did not feel he could continue and reach his personal goals.
   I’m going to make sure it’s understood this was not made in haste. While questions were being asked of Julius during the season, truly the reason he was vague was for two reasons: One, he has tremendous respect for the Panthers’ organization, its coaches and his teammates. He did not want his situation to become a distraction, so he was focused on the team goal of winning a Super Bowl. In fact, Julius and I did not even deeply discuss this situation during the season because he was solely focused on helping the team win a Super Bowl and trying also to see if he could maximize his potential in this system. In fact, there were changes that were made this year.  Julius moved to the other side (to right defensive end). People probably noted he had a little more freedom out there. He was still trying to figure out, `Can this work?’ He evaluated everything after the season ended last week and made this decision last week.
   Q: What if the Panthers switched to a 3-4?
   A: That’s a big `What if?’
   I’ll say this: He feels like he has given it seven years. What people have to understand about the sport of football is, at this juncture, Julius turns 29 on Sunday.  Everybody knows what the length of a very, very good NFL career is, so when you’ve given something seven years and feel you have not reached your full potential, it becomes a situation where you say `My time is very valuable, so I need to maybe not give it any more time.’ Seven years is a long time in an NFL career. In fact, it would be like a regular person staying in a job 15 or 20 years and trying to reach their potential in terms of the scope of how long a career usually is.
   Q: What can you say about the Panthers’ attempts to re-sign Julius? (It’s been reported they offered to make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player).
   A: I will say that generally speaking the Panthers made a solid attempt to re-sign Julius. I’ll say that there already is information out there and it’s probably information that came from sources who know what that offer was, or what that offer would have done for Julius.
   Q: What do you think the Panthers will do? Will they attempt to meet your wishes, likely by franchising him and trading him, or do you think they’ll franchise him and ask him to play under a one-year tender, which he would have to sign.
   A: I can’t speak for them. I can say that in this situation obviously they are in a dilemma. We have made it clear that Julius’ stance on this is firm and that he will not sign a long-term deal now or in the future with the club. They’ve got to decide whether or not they’re going to spend roughly $17 million on a player in whom they will find themselves in this same situation 12 months form now. That is a call they have to make. I am sure a lot of people have a lot of different opinions about whether or not you do that. I think it is important (that it’s) understood that $16.7 million represents a significant increase over the highest paid defensive player’s per-year average, a significant increase. I’m not sure people who are not team execs or reporters necessarily understand that. So the Panthers have to decide do they pay that astronomical figure for one year for a player who will not sign a long-term deal with them?
   That truly represents his viewpoint on this and truly demonstrates the overall relationship we have with the Panthers organization. This is purely business. We have a great relationship with the club, so this is not necessarily an easy thing just because the relationship is strong. But when we’re talking about Julius’ career, his future, what he will look back on when he has left this sport and what he’ll look back on and say he was able to accomplish. One of the things I know Julius has always felt -- I’m talking about from his entry into the NFL -- has been that he did not want to look back and say, `I could have done this, or I could have accomplished that.’
   It is very important to him that when he leaves this sport that he leaves having accomplished his personal goals. I’ll go further and say that in my estimation that I truly believe if Julius felt he could accomplish his personal goals in Carolina, that we might be at a different place today in terms of him saying he needs to leave.
   He is home-grown. He has spent his entire life there. His family is there. This is not something that is easy. If he felt like he could do it there, he would do it there
  But this is a situation where he’s in his prime. He turns 29 on Sunday.
  Q: Specifically, what personal goals do Julius have that he hasn’t met, or what are examples can you provide of how he hasn’t reached his full potential?
   A: Julius has never been one who has put a number on stats in terms of measuring himself or meeting his goal. I think it’s more of a feeling that he has that he has done everything he can do. Right now, he has a feeling that there’s something more, that there’s something left in him that has not been tapped yet. He’ll know when he achieves that thing.
   This is not just about him reaching his personal goals. It’s also about him helping the team he plays for in reaching their ultimate goal. It’s not a thing where it is solely focused on him reaching his personal goals. I think one of his personal goals is to help the team he is playing for win a championship. I think he certainly believes he can contribute to that effort tin a great way given the right system.
   Q: Does Julius have a specific team in mind?
   A: Julius wouldn’t make comments about being able to thrive in the right system without having looked at some systems, observed in watching the games and in playing other teams. He would not have made just a flippant comment like that with no basis. He’s an observer. He has in his head a handful of systems he thinks he could do very well in.
   Q: DeMarcus Ware of Dallas is a big, athletic, dominant defensive player at the outside linebacker position in a 3-4. He just had a huge season. Does Julius look at Ware and see new possibilities for himself to reach more of his full potential?
   A: He has never specifically mentioned that name. But what I will say is in anything that Julius does, he strives to be the best and strives to be at the top and the name you just mentioned certainly is at the top of his game. So it wouldn’t surprise me that Julius has looked at him and maybe a question mark has risen in his head. But he has not mentioned that to me.

   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 17, 2009 at 11:14 AM | Permalink


This is a pretty clear indictment of John Fox, the coaching staff, and the weak strategy and gameplan that has been implemented in Carolina. Peppers is absolutely right in that he'll flourish in a 3-4 and with a better defensive scheme. We've wasted so much talent over the years. It's quite frustrating and pretty sad. John Fox = Status Quo. Nothing more.

Posted by: Dan C. | Jan 17, 2009 11:34:46 AM

All of this is not that shocking. At the end of the day though, this reasoning of Pep being a special athlete and needing a different system holds no water. Explain all the success that the Giants have has rushing athletic, quick DE's. Tuck was a guy that switched from LB to DE and he has been very effective. Peppers speed and strength from the DE position is a mismatch for nearly all offensive linemen. It's pretty naive to think that him playing LB will result in some great awakening in production. While he may be able to drop into coverage from a DE position, the same will not be true at the LB position. He would be routinely burnt by WR's because at the end of the day, he isn't THAT athletic. I would expect the Panthers to slap the tag on him and if they aren't getting at least a 1st rounder and a few late rounders back, in addition to maybe a proven veteran, then Pep will be in a Panthers uniform. He will not get a hometown discount and get a free pass out of Charlotte. I think this is a blessing in disguise, because this team got young in a hurry the past 2 seasons. The one part lacking was a consistent, young d-line and with this I think the Panthers will be able to complete the final piece of the puzzle.

Posted by: mountaineerdynasty | Jan 17, 2009 11:44:47 AM

Trgo must go!

Posted by: Charlie | Jan 17, 2009 11:45:53 AM

Pep would be an outsanding outside backer. I think his true god given tallents would really come out.

Posted by: masterbaker | Jan 17, 2009 11:46:22 AM

One player is not bigger than the whole team. If Pep wants to leave then we franchise him, like his agent is expecting, then trade his "untapped potential"! If he truly feels he's underachieving that's his fault, and this whole talk of a defensive scheme is bs. Don't blame the system for u not reaching ur full potential Pep. Blame itself and that lack of motivation that plagues you. Like I said before, too much worrying about the name on the back of the jersey nowadays! We all bleed Carolina blue and we need players who are gonna be PROUD to where our colors!

Posted by: Panthe R ican | Jan 17, 2009 11:52:08 AM


Posted by: Panthe R ican | Jan 17, 2009 11:54:07 AM

I hope they are able to franchise and trade. The Panthers organization should have seen this coming, from last year even. Peppers will be a good to great player wherever he goes, it would also be nice to 'place' him somewhere too. Far far away!

Posted by: ShluldaKnown | Jan 17, 2009 11:58:24 AM

Dan - before you elect Peppers to the HOF.. he has never played up to his full potential here..In 2007, Peppers claims he was not hurt, and it was just a down year,, He has had other 'Down years', so when he is good, he is very good, he made (4) Pro Bowl's...that means he had (3) years, where he was 'Down'.. so 50% of the time, he has fulfilled his potential, the other 50% of the time, he has disappeared. Does this mean, he should be paid, as the highest paid player in the league..? In Baseball, they make a player prove themselves for more then 1 year.. Was Peppers good this year, because it was a Contract year..If so, he will have several more 'Down Years' soon..

Posted by: Catsnmbr1fan | Jan 17, 2009 11:59:13 AM

I know he's a great talent, but if he's not happy, to quote Curly Bill from Tombstone:

"Well, bye!"

Posted by: TP | Jan 17, 2009 12:18:17 PM

I understand Peppers' shortcomings. And we can all agree that Peppers is a freak of an athlete. So why wouldn't you even try to game plan around your best talent to a degree. That being said, I would tag and trade him too. Other teams are chomping at the bit to get a hold of Peppers.

Posted by: Dan C. | Jan 17, 2009 12:18:27 PM

It shouldn't be lost on anyone that he picked his game up in a contract year. If he's intent on going, they should tag him and trade him, for no less than a first round pick plus at least another pick. This defense needs new blood, and Peppers sure doesn't sound committed.

Posted by: Ashe | Jan 17, 2009 12:18:36 PM

Hopefully this will give Pep the right opportunity to come out of the closet and represent gay men openly in the NFL!!!!

Posted by: smartestbloggerever | Jan 17, 2009 12:22:12 PM

the more I think about this the more irritated I get...if he wanted to reach his "potential" then he had a chance last week against Arizona or against NY in the second half when he was getting knocked on his butt...I sure hope Hurney can get us something for him...

Posted by: bull123 | Jan 17, 2009 12:23:33 PM

Funny, but the article seems to indicate that Peppers never said anything to anyone about being discontent until now. You would think that if he were that dissatisfied, he would have the balls to say something to someone...even if it were to Richardson. There is something to this more than he just wants to see what a different system may do for his career.

Posted by: Tony | Jan 17, 2009 12:28:42 PM

I agree about him coming out of the closet. How many times can a man go to gay bars in Houston and not be out? It's actually a great thing, and I think ultimately, he could be embraced by everyone for taking on a courageous stance. But come on, Julius. Still, enjoy your life whereever it takes you. I wish you would have stayed around, but clearly you don't want to be a Panther for life. You will be one of countless, nameless NFL nomads that have no identity beyond self.

Posted by: okthatisfunny | Jan 17, 2009 12:35:44 PM


Posted by: Ron | Jan 17, 2009 12:48:43 PM

I wonder how many teams will pay 12 million a year for an OLB with no experience at the position. He will likely take a big pay cut over what he made this year or would make under the tag. It better not be about the money.

Posted by: panthers55 | Jan 17, 2009 12:52:07 PM

"I can’t speak for them. I can say that in this situation obviously they are in a dilemma." Pepper's agent Carey.

No Sh*&. Thanks a lot for going public and forcing the Panther's hand. The 'Panther's are a great organization' stuff is crap when their actions speak louder. Classless move Pep. If you really respected the organization, you would have kept it private. Now, as your dillweed agent said, we're in a dilemma. Thanks Pep.

Posted by: gradyhog | Jan 17, 2009 12:52:29 PM

Trgo must go! This idiot had a top talent and couldn't come up with schemes to free up others on the blitz!

Posted by: JAMES | Jan 17, 2009 12:52:55 PM

All this is a "Agent Speak" The Panthers probably offered him a good contract, but not high enough for the Agent.

Posted by: kb | Jan 17, 2009 12:55:00 PM

The funny thing Is FOX and Hurney are about to get killed in the NATIONAL media.

I think its awesome. no more it is what it is biotch.

Posted by: Joe | Jan 17, 2009 1:05:17 PM

He just doesn't want to be here, probably because he is as frustrated with the coaching as the fans are. Talking about potential growth elsewhere is just a nice way to say it without directly implicating the coaches.

Posted by: Jeremy | Jan 17, 2009 1:27:34 PM

Can we stop knocking Peppers already? He's never made excuses in 7 years, never voiced a complaint. If he complained at all he'd be viewed as a TO type and now he keeps his mouth shut and plays out his contract without ever being a distraction and he gets knocked for that. Give me a break, the guy was a class act and considering the amount of complaints about the defensive scheme over the years by fans how much worse must it be to have those feelings and be a player? He's probably felt like this for a while and kept it to himself so as not to make waves, I commend him for that. And you know what he's had 1 bad year, people act like oh he just played well cuz its a contract year, that's a load of crap. The guy has played really well in all years but one, that tells me the one year is an aberration and he should quit being knocked for it. And please don't compare what the panthers do with the giants, tuck is constantly rotated, that's why the team as a whole finds success. Pep plays 95 percent of the snaps, he's rarely off the field. And for the guy who said pep didn't do anything in the 2nd half against the giants, he had a sack that stopped a drive and several tackles. And let's not talk about the zona game, how much effort are you going to put out after the offense throws your game away. I don't care what anyone says one player cost us that game, u can say oh the d didn't stop fitzgerald, and they didn't but I don't blame lucas I blame the gameplan for not doubling but no one wins with 6 turnovers from the qb and a d on the field for so much time. And looking around the sack totals in this league who wouldn't think that lb was a good place for julius? Harrison, porter, ware? Julius ran a 4.67 at the combine, 2 tenths of a second slower than the fastest guy in that trio while carrying 30 extra pounds, ur gonna tell me if he switches position he won't drop weight from the 290 he's checking now to 260 and pick up some of that speed? And don't bring up abraham and his 1 of 3 snaps play rotation cuz jules plays 3 of 3. The more I watched julius over the last few years the more I wished they utilized his talents more and he should feel that way. I've often watched and thought he should rush from the lb position sometimes, be moved to tackle occasionally etc. I don't blame him for wanting out of a uncreative system with little talent along the front 4. Its not like he complained about it and is making a scene, the guy waited till his contract was up and he was no longer a part of it, the guy has every right to say and feel that way. Hell I feel that way. I've often asked the question in chats on espn of pat yasinkas and other columnists, id ask, what player would u move to another position to see what they could do and I would always be curious about Pep in a steelers or eagles type d etc. He deserves better.

Posted by: Jonathan | Jan 17, 2009 1:29:42 PM

doesnt COWER like to run a 3-4??

I like Fox, but I like COWER better. Instead of waiting a year and losing Pep, lets get Cowher now and keep PEP.

Lewis and Johnson at ends
Kemo at NG
Beason and Diggs - or Connors maybe at ILB
Pep and Davis at OLB
and Cower's running game with Williams and Stewart
that could be scary...

Posted by: HC | Jan 17, 2009 1:33:52 PM

Fire Fox, Fire Turdgovac, re-sign peppers and hire Bill Cowher and go 3-4 scheme.

Peppers, Beason, Davis, Connor/Diggs

Brayton, Kemo/Lewis, C. Johnson

throw in another FA signging for the line in that scheme.

Peppers would be a sack machine

Posted by: jp | Jan 17, 2009 1:35:51 PM

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