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March 17, 2009

Analyzing the Peppers situation: Teams interested, Trade unlikely

   There’s plenty of smoke in the air involving a possible trade of Julius Peppers to the New England Patriots, but is there fire?

   And what’s really going on?

   It’s likely that no one – even those most closely involved – know for certain where the Peppers saga is headed, but we’ll try to analyze the most likely possibilities here:


    1) First of all, other teams are inquiring about Peppers despite the fact that he bears the Panthers’ franchise tag.

   “I have talked to general managers of other teams in the NFL and there is interest in Julius,” Carl Carey, Peppers’ agent, told the Observer Tuesday night.

   Carey declined to identify those teams.


    2) Despite the interest, it will be difficult to get a perfect match that lands Peppers with one of the four teams on his preferred list, with a satisfactory contract for him and trade compensation acceptable to Carolina.

   As a result, the percentages still strongly favor Peppers playing with the Panthers next season under a one year-tender of $16.683 million.

   The Panthers consistently have said they want to keep Peppers. They’re not going to let him go at a bargain price, certainly not a mere second-round pick (34th overall) as suggested Monday in an NFL.com report.

   Carolina officials would have preferred Peppers not saying he wanted to leave in the first place, but he remains the anchor of their defensive line and it would be extremely hard to replace him with anyone comparable to his abilities.

   As for the huge amount he’d count against their 2009 salary cap, remember that he counted almost $14 million against their cap last year, so it’s not anything they’re not used to or haven’t planned for.

   They would not have given him the one-year tender if they weren’t willing to stand by it. They didn’t tag him to trade him. They tagged him to keep him. Their entire philosophy is to draft well and, if that happens, keep their core players long-term. That includes Peppers, even at the high price.


   3) The Panthers should not be – and almost certainly aren’t – close-minded about trading Peppers if a substantial offer becomes available.

   This is an organization that has a history of keeping all reasonable options open, and that’s no different now. But “reasonable” doesn’t mean charitable. General manager Marty Hurney and owner Jerry Richardson aren’t about to let an elite player get away for anything less than top value.

   Any deal they’d even consider probably would have to approach what Minnesota gave Kansas City last year for franchised defensive end Jared Allen – a first-round pick and two third-rounders.


   4) If Peppers is traded, the best guess here is that it will be either to New England or Philadelphia.

   A source close to Peppers acknowledged that he is interested in New England, making the Patriots and Dallas the only identified teams in his “Big Four.”

   The Patriots play a 3-4 defense, which intrigues Peppers, and have lots of draft ammunition to use if they choose. They have a first-round pick and three second-rounders, including the 34th overall selection.

   Philadelphia also makes sense. The Eagles have a traditionally strong and creative defense, and they need help at defensive end. Plus, they have the cap room and two first-round picks in this year’s draft – the 21st and the 28th, the latter obtained from Carolina last year in the trade that allowed the Panthers to draft tackle Jeff Otah in the ’08 first round.

   Philadelphia runs a 4-3 defense, but Peppers has said he’s not wed to playing in a 3-4. What he wants most is to be in a system that he believes will put him in position to be at his disruptive best as a pass rusher and playmaker.

   Also, keep in mind that the Eagles’ coaching staff coached the NFC Pro Bowl team that featured a stellar performance by Peppers (a sack, an interception and three tackles).

   Though we haven’t confirmed that Philadelphia is one of Peppers’ four teams, it is known that the two other teams after the Patriots and Cowboys are in the NFC – but not the NFC South. The Eagles play in the NFC East.

   As for the Cowboys, it’s very hard to imagine Peppers landing there. Dallas has limited cap room and is trying to negotiate a new contract to make all-pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware the highest paid defensive player in the league.


   5) The notion that Peppers will be miserably unhappy if he plays for Carolina again is grossly exaggerated. Even if he doesn’t get want he wants, he can stay next season and earn more than $1 million a game.

   Plus, even though the Panthers aren’t his first choice, they’re certainly not last on his list either. In case you didn’t notice, he smiled a lot last season.


   -- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on March 17, 2009 at 10:50 PM | Permalink


A good article. Keep in mind though that the Panthers will never admit to wanting to trade Peppers. The instant they do that, his trade value goes down.

Posted by: Revshawn | Mar 17, 2009 11:01:56 PM

NE throws in a fourth or fifth rounder along with the second and the deal is done. Hope Julius enjoys the gay bar scene in Bah-stan.

Posted by: Phil | Mar 17, 2009 11:23:24 PM

I think Hurney and CO. know what they are doing and will only get top dollar for Peppers if a team comes knocking. Peppers agent needs to be careful about info he is leaking it may be bad for peppers. If we dont ship peppers out this year i think Meeks will re-energize peppers about playing in carolina with a better defense. Our defense hasnt been great since Del Rio left.

Posted by: Adam | Mar 17, 2009 11:32:26 PM

Part of the long-term problem for the Panthers in this situation is that if the Panthers keep him this year under the franchise tag, what will they do after that? The following year his tag price goes up to about $20 milliion. It would be hard to keep anyone at that price. Then they would loose him. They really need to resolve the situation before this coming season.

Posted by: SteveS | Mar 17, 2009 11:45:11 PM

Best article yet, now this make sense plus if you read adam schefter article on peppers he says its a 99percent chance he wont play for patsys because they wont want to pay him more than tom brady remember he wants to be the highest paid defender in the league why give him to them for peanuts patsy fan swallow that id rather philly get him come back pep you the man!panther fans stop hate,en Go Panthers!

Posted by: Tru black & blue | Mar 18, 2009 12:25:16 AM

steve s in on to somthing. assuming peppers stays this year he will make 17 mill. given. and he knows just like we all do that after next year fox and hurney will franchise him again for 20 mil. 37 mil for two years. its gonna be very hard for any team to come close to that. so peppers will have to take a big pay cut. given he has said its not about the money its hard to walk away from 37 million. and if there are only 4 other teams he wants to play for carolina cant be all that bad

Posted by: yer | Mar 18, 2009 3:17:55 AM

"They’re not going to let him go at a bargain price, certainly not a mere second-round pick (34th overall) as suggested Monday in an NFL.com report."

Really? We sure this is "bargain" price when it saves you paying $16m. to a guy who is objectively worth maybe half that?

Marty and Foxy are never, ever going to say out loud that there is a value consideration at work that MIGHT induce them to send Pep on his way.

And Charles, can we PLEEZ stop bringing up Jared Allen as if it set some kinda floor for Pep's value? Allen is 3yrs. younger and never had a 2 sack season.

Posted by: JAT | Mar 18, 2009 3:38:27 AM

Agree with JAT 100%. Many people think that getting a 2nd rounder is a big loss for us. There are always potential first round picks that end up early 2nd rounders. There is more value than just that pick, and that's loosening up the handcuffs Peppers has on the organization right now. We can't even speak to any free agents right now due to NO MONEY AVAILABLE! Thanks Pep! This can't work out perfectly for us, but we need to take the medicine....we'll be better off in the long run.

Posted by: David Crabb | Mar 18, 2009 6:57:05 AM

JAT, that is the way the NFL works. Someone sets a baseline then someone wants more. Allen also does have as many intercepts as Pep. They are used differently, Allen is a primarily a pass rusher and Peppers is a do it all type.
For those that say Pep takes plays off, do not understand the game. If you have run containment responsibilities and it is ran on the other side, why do you expect him to be in the play. It is a long game and you must trust your teammates.
One other thing, who said the Panther's aren't one of the four teams?

Posted by: Carolina Connection | Mar 18, 2009 6:58:35 AM

Nobody's that interested in giving up anything valuble to Carolina for a DE who, if you really look at his play, has been a
career underacheiver. Plays well as long as
he doesn't get punched in the mouth. Were not talking about a 27 year old player either. You see, if Carolina doesn't take what's offered, they realize that keeping him here for another year, and Peppers being a year older, reduces the offers after this coming season even more.

Posted by: skynz71 | Mar 18, 2009 7:32:12 AM

Peppers said the Panthers aren't one of his four teams when he made the statement that he wouldn't sign a long term deal with Carolina.

Posted by: DBIGCAT | Mar 18, 2009 8:30:02 AM

2010 at this point is an uncapped year, meaning that if the salary cap goes away, the panthers will not be constrained by his salary as much as this year. Yes the one year tender will increase by 20% each year, but all the panthers have to do is continue to raise ticket prices to cover it. If it were me bargaining with him, I would make that clear to him as I believe this is one of their best bargaining chips.

Posted by: ReallyConfused | Mar 18, 2009 8:52:19 AM

David Crabb,

Who exactly is out there in Free Agency that you want to sign so badly? We are returning 21 starters from last year which would have been the full 22 if we didn't release Lucas. I can't say there is one person that is a must have to let Peppers go for a low ball offer. But, I do agree that something has to be done before next year. The thought of paying him 20 mil for one season could cripple us badly with us needing to extend DeAngelo next year.

Posted by: JV | Mar 18, 2009 9:04:29 AM

Trade Peppers for Cutler. We need a real QB badly and Denver needs defense badly. (and I think they run a 3-4 scheme) Plus, they are in the AFC - it all seems logical to me that this could be a real trade possibilty. Heck we'll even throw in Mistake Jake to cover their QB need as well.

Posted by: C. | Mar 18, 2009 9:26:11 AM

Trade Peppers for Cutler!

Posted by: C. | Mar 18, 2009 9:27:22 AM

Why are my "Trade Peppers for Cutler" posts not being posted? Seems like the best scenario out there right now IMO.

Posted by: C. | Mar 18, 2009 9:31:09 AM

Why would Peppers agree to a trade to Denver for Cutler? Remember: He has final say in the matter, unless he signs the tender, and even then, what team would take him for 1 year at 16+ mil?

He wants OFF a middle of the road team with no QB. If he goes to Denver, that's exactly what he'd be getting if Cutler comes to the Panthers. Same with the Eagles. McNabb sucks.

Posted by: Rob | Mar 18, 2009 10:38:56 AM

Yes, for the love of God trade Peppers and Jake for Cutler! It would really work out well for both sides if you think about it. Of course, everybody knows that Fox and Hurney don't have the balls to make an agressive trade like that unless their job is on the line like last year when they got Otah's draft pick from Philly. But still, it would be nice to finally have a legitimate star QB in Carolina after over a decade of monatony at the position. The offense would really be unstoppable considering the strength that the running game already has.

Posted by: Rod | Mar 18, 2009 10:59:12 AM

it would be a dream come true to get cutler for peppers but the broncos are not that stupid. then they could get rid of jakey and his 11 million cap hit and get a def tackle and a cornerback.

Posted by: ray | Mar 18, 2009 11:07:56 AM

cutler is a cry baby

Posted by: yer | Mar 18, 2009 11:11:05 AM

What makes Cutler more of a star than Jake?? I think those that want Cutler are just still sipping on that sour lemonade from the playoffs last season... move on. Why do you want Cutler so much? The best he's done as a starter is 8-8. Yeah, he made the pro bowl last year, but oh wait... so did Jake!

Also, do you really want a player that's gonna complain and bellyache like Cutler's doing?? I don't. JAKE is the emotional leader of this team in the lockeroom and on the field. He has the trust of the players and the coaches and some of the fans that know football. Now, after his contract expires this season, who knows... but this season just support our boy.

Posted by: Shane | Mar 18, 2009 11:21:57 AM


Are you Serious? Raise ticket prices so that we can keep one man on our roster? That will never happen. Its been said on this board before, two teams made the Super Bowl last year and either one had Julius Peppers. The League isn't going to erase the Cap. At a time when the NBA and NHL are contracting/cutting their caps, your solution is to gorge the fans when many people are losing jobs.

We need picks for Peppers. Trade up to get Orakpo and a high first round next year to draft a top QB. Lets face it. Jake isn't going anywhere in 09.

Posted by: DrReality | Mar 18, 2009 11:23:42 AM

The whole Peppers issue boils down to one thing. Peppers Agent does not know how to market his player (might be his only player). The way he has handled his client from the beginning has been nothing short of stupid.

Posted by: scoot | Mar 18, 2009 11:41:33 AM

"This is an organization that has a history of keeping all reasonable options open, and that’s no different now. But “reasonable” doesn’t mean charitable. General manager Marty Hurney and owner Jerry Richardson aren’t about to let an elite player get away for anything less than top value."

What did they do with Kris Jenkins, Pro Bowl Nose Tackle, that could play both the 3-4 and 4-3???? Certainly didn't get top value for him, a 3rd and 5th.

Posted by: J Thomas | Mar 18, 2009 11:52:28 AM

Charles, I completely disagree. The Panthers didn't tag Pep to keep him! They tagged him because that was their ONLY option left after Pep didn't sign their offer sheet and said publically he wanted to leave town. I find it hard to believe that Fox/Hurney would WANT to keep Pep at $17m for one year. What they do want is to get something of value for him instead of just seeing him walk out of town. Clearly, clearly, clearly a 2nd round pick is not enough compensation for Pep, and sure Jared Allen does set some sort of benchmark. But the economy and situation are different now than when the Allen deal went down. Other teams know the Panthers hands are tied and when push comes to shove, I just feel that the team will make the decision that they'd rather have an undervalued compensation package for Pep (i.e. a 2nd round pick) and $17m of cap room than a disgruntled Pep for one year at an absurd number.

Posted by: Michael | Mar 18, 2009 12:52:54 PM

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