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June 25, 2009

Long-term deal could be next for Peppers

Peppers Recent face-to-face meetings with Carolina Panthers officials not only led defensive end Julius Peppers to decide to sign his contract tender to play for the team this season, but also resulted in him becoming open to their long-stated desire to sign him to a long-term extension.

Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, told the Observer late Wednesday night that Peppers was satisfied with the contract tender he signed (which could be worth a mind-boggling $19.183 for the 2009 season), but also was willing to consider a more permanent arrangement.

"Julius has always had tremendous respect for the individuals in the organization, and he had the opportunity to sit down face-to-face and talk with people he's had great respect for," said Carey. "Sometimes it takes a discussion to begin to understand each other's perspectives."

Carey's comment illuminated a statement he released earlier in the day from Peppers. Peppers said in the statement that he'd had "positive and productive discussions" with the team and was "optimistic and focused as I look forward to the upcoming NFL season."

This all amounts to a dramatic about-face for Peppers, who in January said he thought he had reached his full potential in
Carolina and preferred to play for another team next season. The Panthers blocked him from becoming an unrestricted free agent by placing their franchise tag on him, and the blockbuster trade he sought never materialized.

So, after five months of waiting for the Peppers' situation to work in their favor, the Panthers now have a three-week window to negotiate with him. NFL teams with franchise players have until July 15 to sign those players to a long-term contract extension. If the Panthers miss that deadline, they would have to wait until after the '09 season to resume negotiations.

Carolina’s other options if a deal doesn’t get completed quickly would be to allow Peppers to leave as an unrestricted free agent next February (highly, highly unlikely) or franchise him again with a franchise tender of slightly more than $20 million – an almost unfathomable number.

A long-term deal would give the Panthers substantial salary cap relief heading into next season, allowing them room to sign their rookies and perhaps add some veteran depth.

Peppers currently counts $16.683 million against their cap -- the amount of his guaranteed base salary under the tender offer they made him as their franchise player. He also could earn up to an extra $2.5 million in incentives that carry over from his previous contract -- $1.5 million if he's selected to the Pro Bowl and $250,000 for every playoff win up to and including the Super Bowl.

If the Panthers franchise Peppers against next February, he'd be due a one-year contract tender with a 20 percent raise, according to the NFL collective bargaining agreement. That would move his salary to just over $20 milliion plus the same incentives as this year.

Thus, It would seem to behoove the Panthers to pounce on Peppers while he's finally open to signing a long-term deal. They've tried unsuccessfully to sign him to an extension for more than two years. He previously turned down Carolina's offer to make him the NFL's highest paid player.

They'd almost certainly still have to provide that distinction again, meaning they'd have to better the three-year, $45.3 million contract the Oakland Raiders gave cornerback Nnamdi Osomugha and the seven-year, $100 million deal Washington
gave defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth.

As astronomical as those contracts may seem, they'd be dwarfed by the nearly $37 million in base salary the Panthers would pay Peppers if they franchise him for the next two consecutive seasons. While Osomugha's deal averages $15.1 million per season, most ever for a defensive player in a multi-year deal, franchising Peppers twice in a row would cost the Panthers an average of around $18.5 million per year -- minus incentives.

Among reasons Peppers could be more inclined to agree to an extended stay with the Panthers: There's a new defensive coordinator in Ron Meeks and a new defensive line coach in Brian Baker. Though Peppers never complained about their prececessors (Mike Trgovac and Sal Sunseri, respectively), the defensive changes being made could offer him hope of coming closer to reaching his full potential in Carolina.

So it could  be a much busier-than-usual summer for the Panthers after this latest twist in the Peppers saga.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on June 25, 2009 at 07:52 AM | Permalink


So lets get this straight... I want out of here, I don't like the system and the way I'm being used, I think I can make more money and play better elsewhere...oh wait, I can't get better money elsewhere, my market value isn't as high as I thought it would be, I just realized I'm almost 30 years old and only have 3 or 4 more good years in me....did I say I want out of Charlotte?? No no no, I love Charlotte. Let's stay here forever. Let's sign long-term.

Posted by: john | Jun 25, 2009 8:25:21 AM

What else is he going to say??? If he has the appearance of having one foot out the door all year - that does no body any good... Either the guy is a bit looney and cant make up his mind - or this is all a ploy to have teammates, coaches, fans, and all those other teams who will look to sign him next year (or the year after if we franchise him again) to not think of him as someone that is going to rock the boat... a la T.O. or Ocho Cinco or etc, etc, etc... Hope I am wrong, but this may just be some good ole snake in the grass sports agent manuevering.

Posted by: Sceptic | Jun 25, 2009 8:27:52 AM

Are we not in one of the worst economic recessions of all time? Where's all this money going to come from? Not me. Not anybody I know either.

Posted by: steve | Jun 25, 2009 8:38:51 AM

"Sometimes it takes a discussion to begin to understand each other's perspectives" Nothing in the quotes given indicates a desire to sign long term. He wanted out of here and this sounds like a way to patch things over for the coming season. Unless you're holding out on the rest of Carey's statement- something that actually holds weight- the idea that Pepp wants to commit is a pretty BIG stretch.

And just because it's a recession doesn't mean companies that are performing well have to freeze spending so the public doesn't get jealous.

Posted by: William | Jun 25, 2009 8:56:21 AM

Please would some of you stop complaining. Peppers has signed his tender and regardless of him being an iffy player sometimes neither one of us would like to see him across the line going against the panthers. This league is built on players who add strengths to your team and with peppers on the line it gives other teams something to gameplan for. The pieces are falling in place in Carolina and Peppers would just hate to leave and have what happened to strahan happen to him when the Giants won it all right after he left...

Posted by: LaQuon | Jun 25, 2009 8:56:52 AM

The more I think about it, the more I think this was all about Trgo. I think the Panthers proved they were sincere about getting better on the defense when they dumped Trgo and hired Meeks and made some serious staff changes as well. And don't forget about drafting Brown. It's possible this is what he wanted all along and was working out in AZ (which he also did last year) during our OTAs while his friends got the lay of the land. Now he's had a chance to compare notes with his friends like Beason and D-Lew and is satisfied that our defense is headed in the right direction and wants to be part of it. Two things I notice 1) Carey says he's open to a long term deal and 2) there is no clause prohibiting us from franchising him again next year (like there was with Haynesworth in TN). JMHO of what's going on here. Anyway, I was angry with him, but now he's a Panther again and as part of my team, I will cheer him on!!

Posted by: Panthersfan | Jun 25, 2009 9:01:42 AM

I think you're right Pantherfan,this whole thing had more to do with the fact he didn't like the way the defense was being run under Trgo. Once he finally sat down and had talks with Meeks and Fox about the new defense he started to come around.

Posted by: Herdgrad | Jun 25, 2009 9:08:25 AM

To Steve:
I will tell you where the money will come from. DirecTV, EA Sports, Sirius, and all those other corporations who bought exclusive rights from the NFL. They have contracts, so they must continue to pump in money even in a recession. That won't be enough, so some money will come from other corporate partners who either buy luxury suites or ad space.

As far as Peppers. So long as Meeks isn't as stupid as Trgovac was and constantly put Pep in zone coverage, Pep will have a good year. Sure, he plays half-hearted sometimes. But I would too if I my D coach was Trgovac.

Posted by: Wade | Jun 25, 2009 9:15:20 AM

very good news.

Anyone who goes out roots against Peppers this season is no fan.

Posted by: matt | Jun 25, 2009 9:19:38 AM

This is a business. I don't understand why people take it personal when a person is trying to further their career. Whether it be more money or a greater opportunity to challenge yourself professionally, it's all a business decision. Trust that he is a professional and he will continue to produce on the field regardless of what led him to remain a Panther. I'm glad he here and open to the possibility to remain here. I think we all have to make the same decision in our careers at some point although it may not equate to millions of dollars.

Posted by: Peppersfan | Jun 25, 2009 9:21:58 AM

OLD News. Why is it our local reporters are always a day late and a dollar short with reporting on the hometown team? SAD SAD SAD

Posted by: Greg | Jun 25, 2009 9:32:29 AM


Posted by: JEREMY | Jun 25, 2009 10:15:47 AM

if u got nothing good to say dont say anything at all, fake azz panther fans who are critcal of pepers need to relize he help build us into a real repectable team in first place so lay off peppers

Posted by: e | Jun 25, 2009 10:26:14 AM

Strahan left AFTER the Giants won the Super Bowl...

Posted by: Dan | Jun 25, 2009 10:26:36 AM

Tha Panthers and Peppers have handled this the right way. No name calling, no acrimony.
It may very well be that it's a cooincidence that we have a whole new Defensive staff, but it may not as well. Regardless, a new staff will take a new look at personnel and hopefully try to put players in a scheme to be successful. That applies to all players - especially Peppers. I think that's what he's been looking for - a voice in how he's used.

Posted by: BillyMac | Jun 25, 2009 10:30:04 AM

Tha Panthers and Peppers have handled this the right way. No name calling, no acrimony.
It may very well be that it's a cooincidence that we have a whole new Defensive staff, but it may not as well. Regardless, a new staff will take a new look at personnel and hopefully try to put players in a scheme to be successful. That applies to all players - especially Peppers. I think that's what he's been looking for - a voice in how he's used.

Posted by: BillyMac | Jun 25, 2009 10:30:47 AM

As a true Panther fan (not the "fair weather" variety), I am delighted that Peppers will be on our team in 2009. I truly do hope he signs a long-term contract and stays in Carolina for the duration of his career. That being said, I was disappointed with the way the Panthers have been "strapped" for the past five months. On the other hand, I realize that there are things that we, as fans, do not know, and that only Peppers and the Panthers (and possibly only Peppers) know the real reason(s) behind his decisions.

At any rate, can't wait for the season to begin---GO PANTHERS!!!!!!!! GO PEPPERS!!!!!! GO JAKE!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Panthergirl | Jun 25, 2009 10:58:50 AM

You see this stuff a lot nowadays. Don't forget about Lance Briggs a few years back saying that he would NEVER play for Chicago again, well never turned out to be about 3 months until they offered him a long term deal that he signed then was the happiest player in the league and singing the Bears praises. I agree w/ what some of you have said up above that this looks more and more like he was sick and tired of the production of the defense and didn't see anything changing. Behold, our entire defensive staff was replaced along with the coordinator. We have a proven coach in Meeks and proven position coaches. I know the media has been saying that Fox was to blame for the defense last year and that he ticked players off by being too involved in the defense. To me, if your boss has to get involved in a certain area then that means he doesn't trust the people that are there to get the job done. Obviously if he was sitting in the meetings last year he had lost confidence in Trgo and rightfully so I think. I think the Panthers let the d coaches know without humiliating them by firing them that they wouldn't be retained so they needed to look else where. Trgo himself said that he was going to be back and still wanted to coach at Carolina, then two days after he said that...he left and took a demotion to coach in Green Bay. Why would he do that if he wasn't told he was going to be shown the door if he tried to stay? I think the coaching and given the fact that the Panthers just had an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals at home...in the playoffs made Peppers say...you know what...enough is enough. Just my opinion...feel free to rip it to shreds...

Posted by: JT | Jun 25, 2009 11:17:53 AM

he signed, now trade him!

Posted by: Phil | Jun 25, 2009 11:40:35 AM

that's a lot of money to play pattycake with tight ends.

Posted by: Brigolf67 | Jun 25, 2009 11:53:46 AM

I think that the fans should boycott the Panthers for making stupid decisions that ultimately cost the ticket purchasers more $. They are just throwing good money after bad. Peppers wont make the team any better this season than he has in the past. His time is winding down anyway. Cut your losses and move on. Unload Jake while your at it.

Posted by: Its_All_BS | Jun 25, 2009 11:57:59 AM

I'm of the opinion with a few other posters here that having Meeks here might have made him change his mind. I did like the system he ran in Indy.

Posted by: PantherDave | Jun 25, 2009 11:58:33 AM

Funny how people on here are so quick to say something having absolutely no clue what theyre talking about. Michael Strahan left the Giants AFTER he won the Super Bowl. The Panthers didn't dump Trgovac (although we all know they should have), they offered him an extension... he apparently accepted it, and one day later he decided to go elsewhere. And yes, people on here are quick to criticize players because they are so wrapped up in their passion for the home team ra-ra-ra, but it is a business for them. In your own professional life, you seek to better yourself and go where the challenges are if you feel you have plateaued in a certain environment. That's life. I do think that perhaps Meeks' new approach to defense offers a fresh new start that makes the Panthers once again attractive for Peppers. As you know, he had been playing his whole NFL career under Trgovac, so it makes sense that a new system would once again add some appeal.

Posted by: jimbo | Jun 25, 2009 12:15:55 PM

yeah, opposing teams always line up their tight-ends on Peppers... get a life Brigof, or better yet, watch some games instead before posting

Posted by: jimbo | Jun 25, 2009 12:26:40 PM

Peppers is playing with fire if he decides to wait again til next year to sign a long term deal. As Fox is apt to point out: this is a very violent game. His career could be over at any time. He'd then have NO negotiating power for future years.

Posted by: PantherFan4Good | Jun 25, 2009 12:33:06 PM

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