A Glimpse at the Futures of Julius Peppers, John Fox, and Free Agents


My, how time flies. Even if you’re not having fun! What hurts more, is the abrupt stop when the regular season ends, and the team has nowhere to go but home.

Here we are, three days into the 2010 offseason. It only feels like a few months ago we were watching the NFL Draft, rolling our eyes at the mortgaging of another first-round draft to move up in the second round.

So here we are again in a fairly familiar place as last year, as well as experiencing some new twists to the offseason. In some ways, the entire league and fans might be experiencing a new twist, as right now it seems that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) will be allowed to expire.

The familiar territory is obviously the questionable future of Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers with the Panthers.

Unable to reach a longterm deal before training camp in July, Peppers signed his one-year franchise tender of $16.7 million.

Fans were unsure of which Peppers (consistent or inconsistent) would play this season, but he put in a pretty good season. He led the team in sacks with 10.5, and he was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl, as a starter no less.

With Peppers, it’s a 50-50. He indicated that he liked the way he was used later in the season, and that he likes Ron Meeks’ style of defense. The good news in this situation is, that he said he would make a decision by the end of this week.

So I’m hoping Peppers is true to his word and gives us a decision on what he wants to do next season, within the next couple of weeks (I’ll give the man some time), if not sooner.

Another gray area the Panthers seemed to be facing this offseason, was the uncertainty of head coach John Fox’s future in Carolina.

Right now, the latest from Fox was that he sees himself coaching this team next year. So going off that, coupled with the fact that Panthers owner Jerry Richardson already offered him to finish out the final year of his contract–after the Panthers’ win against the New York Giants–with no guarantee of an extension, it seems that Fox is adamant about being the Panthers head coach for at least one more year, thus dispelling any sort of Fox-to-Cleveland rumor.

Carolina also has some free agents entering the offseason of 2010. Most notable are quarterback Matt Moore, linebacker Thomas Davis, and cornerback Richard Marshall.

In theory, if the CBA does not get renewed and expires, then there is really no reason for the Panthers to re-sign Moore, Davis, or Marshall at this time.

Here’s why: Up until now (in capped seasons), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four, or five accrued seasons.

Without a CBA, the rule for a franchise/transition player designation also changes.

Currently, there is only one designated player per season allowed each team. Without the CBA, each team is allowed two, thus giving Carolina the option to franchise Matt Moore and Thomas Davis, since Richard Marshall’s contract doesn’t expire until after 2010.

So these are a few unknowns we are faced with as the Panthers enter the offseason. Check back often for any updates.

CBA information used from NFL.com