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January 31, 2010

Hurney: No decision yet on Peppers

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said tonight through team spokesman Charlie Dayton that no decision has been made yet regarding the future of Julius Peppers with the team.

Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, said earlier in the evening that he hasn't heard from team officials since the season ended and that he concluded the team had "moved on" and would let Peppers become an unrestricted free agent.

According to Dayton, Hurney didn't elaborate other than to say nothing was final.

With Peppers' contract due to expire, Carolina's options include trying to sign him to a long-term contract, franchising him to either keep or trade, or letting him become an unrestricted free agent and getting nothing in return.

Franchising Peppers, a decision that must be finalized between Feb. 11-25, would require Carolina to make Peppers a one-year tender offer of more than $20 million, a 20 percent increase over the $16.683 million he earned last season. He'd also receive a $1.5 million Pro Bowl incentive bonus.

Carey seemed confident the Panthers would allow Peppers to become an unrestricted free agent, going so far as to thank Carolina fans for their support of the defensive end over the past eight years and saying he looked forward to the next phase of his career.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 31, 2010 at 09:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Agent: Panthers giving Peppers "silent treatment," believes they've "moved on"

Julius Peppers' agent said tonight that he has not heard from the Carolina Panthers since the end of the season regarding his client's future with the team and that he believes the club has "moved on" with the intent of allowing Peppers to become an unrestricted free agent.

"I initiated communication with the organnztion shortly after the season ended,"  agent Carl Carey told the Observer. "They informed me they would make contact the following week and they never did.

"To date, we still have not heard from them. They are definitely giving Julius the silent treatement, but sometimes silence actually tells you more than words do. We can only conclude that they have moved on."

ESPN's Adam Schefter cited an NFL source Sunday who claimed team owner Jerry Richardson had told people in the league the team would not try to keep Peppers.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney declined to discuss Peppers' situation last week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and so far has been unavailable for comment tonight.

Peppers' contract is set to expire next month. In order to keep him, the Panthers either would have to sign him to a contract extension or apply their franchise tag.

The tag would be ultra-expensive, however, costing the Panthers more than $20 million -- a 20 percent increase over the $16.683 million they paid him this season via the franchise tag.

It has been widely believed that Peppers would only sign a long-term contract extension making him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.  Such a deal would have to average more than $15 million per year.

However, Carey said of the Panthers, "The organization has no idea what Julius' salary requirement would be at this point because they haven't asked."

Carey said Peppers was "open to hearing" from the Panthers after the regular season, but "because he has not heard from them, then he has to start looking forward to the likely scenario that he will enter free agency, and he’s excited about that."

Carey reiterated that the Panthers "have not made a single inquiry this offseason regarding Julius and the possibility of him having a future with the franchise. At this point, we do not expect to hear from them.

"We have treated the organization with professionalism, cordinality and respect thoughout the past eight years and we’re proud of that."

Carey said the Panthers' silence this year is a marked change from last year, when the two sides were in frequent communication even after Peppers said in January 2009 that he wanted to move to another team.

Peppers has a team record 81 sacks in eight seasons and recently was named to the NFL's All-Decade team. He is playing tonight in his fifth career Pro Bowl.

If Peppers indeed becomes an unrestricted free agent, he'd likely become the most marketable player at his position to hit the open market since Reggie White.

"Julius is looking forward to free agency and feels he is just now entering his prime," said Carey. "He has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. As he opens the next chapter of his life and his career, Julius wants to thank the Carolina fans and let them know their support has meant a lot to him over the years."

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 31, 2010 at 07:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Where will Peppers play? 'No preference'

Julius Peppers says he's willing to play anywhere in 2010, and really has no preference. Peppers, who will play in the Pro Bowl today in Miami, told the Associated Press he had no idea what was going on with his status with the Panthers.

"Anywhere is a potential landing spot," he said. "I'm not going to say I want to play for any team or I prefer to play anywhere, because I really haven't thought about it."

Posted by Observer Sports on January 31, 2010 at 12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (21)

January 30, 2010

Panthers promote Rodgers to special teams coordinator

The Panthers named Jeff Rodgers their new special teams coordinator Saturday, replacing Danny Crossman, who was fired in January.

Rodgers, 32, was the team's special teams assistant last season. He came to the Panthers from Kansas State, where he was special teams coach in 2009. The Wildcats led the country in blocked kicks (nine) and scored six special-teams touchdowns (five on punt returns). Before that, he was special teams quality control coach with the San Francisco 49ers from 2003-07.

There's plenty of room for improvement on special teams for the Panthers, who finished near the bottom of the NFL's rankings in punt return and kick return coverage last season. -- David Scott  

Posted by Observer Sports on January 30, 2010 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

January 29, 2010

Beason makes Pro Bowl after all

Panthers linebacker Jon Beason, who was upset by being snubbed by not being selected to the Pro Bowl, is headed to play in the game in Miami on Sunday after all.

Beason has been named to replace San Francisco inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who's been sidelined this week by an injury.

Beason, a Pro Bowler last year, had been named a second alternate. The first alternate at inside linebacker, London Fletcher, already had been added to the roster.

Beason joins three Panthers teammates in the game -- defensive end Julius Peppers, running back DeAngelo Williams and center Ryan Kalil, who also was added as an alternate.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 29, 2010 at 03:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

January 28, 2010

Peppers `honored' to make All-Decade team, looks ahead to 'my best years'

   In what may be the highest honor of his NFL career, Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has been selected to the league’s all-decade team, which was voted upon by the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

   The entire team won’t be announced until Sunday, but the league revealed the 12 players selected who are participating in this week’s Pro Bowl in Miami.

   “I am honored and feel privileged to be recognized in this way," Peppers said in a statement released Wednesday night by his agent, Carl Carey. "There is still a lot of work for me to do in my career and I believe my best years are ahead of me."

   The all--decade team honors the NFL's best players for the years 2000-2009. For Peppers, it's a significant achievement and is a big step toward validating him someday as a candidate for the Hall of Fame.

  Peppers, who has 81 sacks in eight seasons, is in the final year of his contract and soon will find out whether the Panthers will franchise him for the second consecutive season, which would require them to tender him an offer of more than $20 million for the 2010 season.

   NFL rules require teams apply franchise and transition tags between Feb. 11-25.

   The Panthers also could try to sign Peppers to a long-term contract or allow him to become an unrestricted free. 

   Peppers was joined on the all-decade as joined by by these fellow Pro Bowlers: San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, Jets’ guard Alan Faneca, Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson, Titans center Kevin Mawae, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Denver’s defensive backfield duo of Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins, Oakland punter Shane Lechler, Eagles kicker David Akers, and Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs.

   -- Charles Chandler
 

Posted by Observer Sports on January 28, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)

January 26, 2010

Senior Bowl notes

MOBILE, Ala. -- Panthers coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney sat near the top of the stands in Ladd Peebles Stadium this morning scouting the North team practice for the Senior Bowl.

Both are staying mum, declining comment after the practice about any and all issues relating to the Panthers' upcoming offseason moves -- their plans for upcoming free agent Julius Peppers, the potential search for a young quarterback prosect, etc.

Fox also isn't saying how he feels about coaching the 2010 season in the final year of his contract.

However, his preparations are fully underway to be with the team as planned. He's already hired a new wide receivers coach (Tyke Tolbert) and is in the process of finding a replacement for special teams coach Danny Crossman, who wasn't retained.

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Crossman is getting early work with his new team, the Detroit Lions, since their staff is coaching the North team in the Senior Bowl. Crossman was busy preparing the North's special teams units during this morning's practice.

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The South team, headlined by Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, is scheduled to begin practice at 2:45 p.m. ET. Scouts on hand yesterday said Tebow struggled with some of his throws and with taking snaps from center. He was accustomed to taking snaps out of the shotgun formation in Florida's spread offense.

This is a big week for Tebow as he tries to show pro scouts that he can play quarterback in the NFL.

-- Charles Chandler 

Posted by Observer Sports on January 26, 2010 at 01:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (26)

January 25, 2010

Kalil added to NFC Pro Bowl roster

Panthers center Ryan Kalil will join teammates DeAngelo Williams and Julius Peppers at the Pro Bowl this week in Miami.

The NFL announced today that Kalil, an alternate, would replace New Orleans Saints' center Jonathan Goodwin on the NFC roster. Goodwin can't participate because he's playing in the Super Bowl a week later.

It will be the first Pro Bowl appearance for Kalil, who recently completed his third NFL season. He's widely regarded as one of the NFL's best and most talented young centers.

Goodwin was one of 14 members of the Colts and Saints who were selected to play in the Pro Bowl, but won't be able to perform.

Usually, the Pro Bowl is held in Hawaii the week after the Super Bowl, allowing players from the championship teams to participate.

This year, however, the Pro Bowl is being held at the site of the Super Bowl, but is being played one week earlier.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on January 25, 2010 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (30)

January 24, 2010

See DeAngelo's 'Pants on the Ground' video

Not sure why, but here's DeAngelo Williams' remake of "Pants on the Ground."

Posted by Observer Sports on January 24, 2010 at 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (41)

January 21, 2010

Panthers hire Tolbert as receivers coach

The Panthers named Tyke Tolbert their new receivers coach today. Tolbert, who's been in that position with the Buffalo Bills the last six seasons, replaces Richard Williamson, who retired earlier this week.

Tolbert coached the Arizona Cardinals receivers in 2003 before going to Buffalo. He began his coaching career with college jobs at Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn, Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida. In his one season with the Cardinals, Tolbert coached rookie Anquan Boldin, who made the Pro Bowl that season.

The Panthers also have to hire a special teams coach to replace Danny Crossman, who was fired last week. -- David Scott

Posted by Observer Sports on January 21, 2010 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (40)

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