Defensive end Julius Peppers‘ agent, Carl Carey, told the Charlotte Observer Thursday morning that Peppers is waiting for the Carolina Panthers to announce how they plan on handling his free agency before saying anything about his wishes.
Carey reiterated that Peppers’ concerns from last season “don’t currently exist.”
“I think it’s appropriate that we reserve our comments until after the Panthers’ organization has publicly announced their intentions regarding Julius’ impending free agency,” Carey said. “Julius feels good about being selected to his fifth Pro Bowl and is focusing on representing the Carolina Panthers in Miami.”
That’s good news. Certainly a lot better news than last year, which after the outcome of the Panthers’ postseason loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Peppers plainly stated he wanted out of Carolina at any cost.
The Panthers had one option available to them, though. After working out a long-term deal with left tackle Jordan Gross, Carolina placed the franchise tag on Peppers.
After an offseason of holding out, Peppers finally signed the franchise tender and played the 2009 season in Carolina.
He made $16.683 million, plus an additional $1.5 million for making the Pro Bowl.
Another positive sign is Peppers is giving the Panthers the first opportunity to state their position as to whether they’ll offer him a contract extension. If they do, then obviously it has to be agreeable to Peppers.
If the Panthers and Peppers cannot come to a contract agreement, then Carolina still has the option of franchising Pep for the 2010 season. But it will be more expensive this year than last. This year’s franchise tag would cost the Panthers about $20.1 million. If the plan is to sign him to trade him to another team, then the question is, what team wants to pay that contract?
My gut feeling is that somehow, this will work out and the Panthers and Peppers will come to terms on a long-term deal. With an uncapped year looking more certain with every passing day, the Panthers don’t have to worry about staying under the salary cap. However, they will only pay out what they can afford, as will most teams.
In the event Carolina and Peppers aren’t able to agree on terms and Peppers is eventually gone from Carolina, the Panthers still have talent at the defensive end position. Not a physical and mental disturbance (to opposing teams) like Peppers, but still some talented defensive ends. There’s also the option of maybe picking up a DE in free agency.
The Panthers could make a trade to the New York Giants for defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who is also in his prime, at 28 years of age. Umeniyora has said he no longer wishes to play for the Giants.
I don’t really think the Panthers have any room to trade away any draft picks though, and I’m not sure if there’s anyone on the Panthers roster that the Giants would like in a trade, whom the Panthers are willing to part with.
I don’t know about you, but after seeing a happier Peppers on the field this year and a good performance from him; after hearing his comments of how he’s pleased with the way he was used in the defensive scheme and that he likes Ron Meeks, I want to see this work and have Peppers stay in Carolina for the next few years.
Original content reported by Charlotte Observer