Have the Carolina Panthers Moved on Without Julius Peppers?


The latest news around the web concerning Julius Peppers’ doubtful future with the Carolina Panthers came late Sunday night. While speculation mounts, the future and uncertainty of the Carolina Panthers and Julius Peppers may clear up sooner than expected.

It was reported by Julius Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey that the Panthers have “not made a single inquiry this offseason, and we don’t expect to hear from them.”

I call it a case of hardball, since the Panthers have been very tight-lipped this offseason about much of their future plans…Even quieter than they usually are, which is pretty quiet anyway.

In the fourth week since the Panthers played their last game of the season against the New Orleans Saints, there has been plenty of time to discuss what, if anything, they might want to do about keeping Peppers around. There’s been plenty of time to see what he wants to do as well.

The reason this could be a case of hardball isn’t so much on the side of the Panthers as it is coming from Peppers’ agent, Carey. He will be shopping Peppers around to any other teams that would be interested in his services.

Peppers had stated that he just wants to get a contract and play for a team. He made no specifications as to which team, nor what style of defense he’d like to play in.

There are two factors that could play against Peppers, however. His age (Peppers is 30) and his asking price could be an issue, considering the seemingly eminent lockout looming in 2011.

I can’t imagine a team offering to break the bank to bring him in for a year, go through a lockout, and in 2012 bring him back again when he’ll be two years older.

However, Peppers’ 81 career sacks ranks third behind Miami Dolphins’ defensive end Jason Taylor and Indianapolis Colts’ defensive end Dwight Freeney.

I’m not saying that it won’t or can’t happen, but if it does happen that Peppers plays somewhere else, the chances that he will be able to adapt and continue his high-level of play would undoubtedly not be a problem.

The Panthers of course still have the option to franchise Peppers again this year, and with an uncapped season that would be quite easy for them to do. But even that makes no sense, considering it would cost the team $20.1 million, plus $1.5 million should he be voted to another Pro Bowl, and $250,000 per playoff win. If the Panthers and Peppers were to agree to a long-term contract, it would likely cost the Panthers upward of $15 million per season.

“I think most people who have looked at the situation have understood the complexity of it for the Panthers,” Carey said. “What I’m more surprised by is the silent treatment that they’re giving Julius at this time. We have had a very respectful relationship with the organization and this is very much unlike what I’m used to seeing from them.”

Carey said he talked with team officials on the day of the regular-season finale against New Orleans on Jan. 3, then initiated contact with the team shortly thereafter.

“They informed me they would make contact the following week,” Carey said. “They never did. To date, we have still not heard from them.”

Carolina’s silence to all but certain people within the organization, has left everyone else in a lurch.

“Julius wants to thank the Carolina fans and know their support has meant a lot to him over the years,” Carey said.

Could Sunday night’s performance in the Pro Bowl be the last time we see Peppers in a Panthers uniform? It certainly sounds that way. If so, the Panthers do have some promising talent at the defensive end position, even though replacing an athlete of Peppers’ pedigree is next to impossible.

You will be able to find any future developments on Julius Peppers here.