A very interesting story appeared today on Pro Football Weekly. The Carolina Panthers are reportedly negotiating with Julius Peppers to keep in him the fold for the long haul.
Negotiations on a long-term contract extension for Panthers DE Julius Peppers are ongoing, the way we hear it. Sources in Carolina say the team is in wait-and-see mode with its freakishly athletic star pass rusher, who had a career-high 13 sacks in 2006, and talks could heat up if Peppers comes to camp in good condition and shows the ability to shake off last year’s puzzling 2½-sack campaign. Peppers, 28, is in the final year of his rookie contract. Reports from a year ago said he wanted to become the highest-paid defensive player in the league, and Carolina seemed willing to oblige. Word is, despite his baffling decline last season, the Panthers aren’t expected to make Peppers a significantly lower contract offer than the one that was discussed last offseason. They still hold him in high esteem, as head coach John Fox has made clear in statements throughout the offseason, and slashing money out of the offer would be a hit to Peppers’ psyche right before the start of the season. He is known to be sensitive about such matters, and such a tactic would become distracting.
Does anybody know what happened to Julius last year? Anyone? Whatever it was, it sure put a hurt on his production. That simply wasn’t the J-Pepp we’ve all come to know and love.
The team isn’t letting that one season impact their decision-making process or their negotiating. How much they give him and the length of the deal are big questions and we all know that Marty Hurney isn’t in the business of reporting contract details. We may never know.