By: Ian Logue
Christopher Price of WEEI.com reported on Tuesday that Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Julius Peppers sounds like he’s done in Carolina, which could put him back on the free agent market.
Peppers, who accepted the franchise tag from the Panthers and signed a $16.7 tender offer back in June, has apparently been getting the “silent treatment” and no longer has interest in signing a long-term deal.
“Last year, at the time, that was the option that I wanted most,” Peppers said in an interview aired Tuesday morning on Charlotte radio station WFNZ-AM. “Now it’s not.”
Peppers recorded 10 1/2 sacks last season and made the Pro Bowl, and according to the HeraldNet out of Charlotte New England could certainly be a team that may be interested. With the prospect of draft picks and added compensation no longer an issue, provided Peppers has changed his interest toward being with a winning franchise and isn’t looking for ridiculous money – it seems less absurd. As we’ve seen they’ve had their issues with generating a pass rush, so Peppers definitely seems like a guy they might consider.
New England finished the 2009 regular season with just 31 sacks (tied for 23rd with the Panthers) with Tully Banta-Cain leading the way with 10 of them. Other than Banta-Cain, the next closest were Mike Wright and Derrick Burgess, who had five each.
Needless to say getting to the quarterback has been an issue.
Whether or not he fits Belichick’s style of defense will likely be a deciding factor, along with his work ethic. With many changes looming on this roster, Belichick has already had his share of guys who were great players before they got here but didn’t pan out (ie: Adalius Thomas), and there have apparently been questions surrounding Peppers’ inconsistency. He finished with just 2 1/2 sacks in ’08, and according to the HeraldNet he acknowledged in that interview Tuesday that even former defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (now coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars) told him during his rookie year in 2002 that it doesn’t appear he’s playing hard on every down.
“I told him just because it doesn’t look like I’m running as hard as the next man with my arms swinging, sweating and breathing hard doesn’t mean I’m not trying as hard,” Peppers said. “I’m still trying hard, it just doesn’t look like it. I do it easier.”
So there are certainly lots of factors to consider. We’ll have to wait and see in the coming months if being a Patriot could come to fruition, or if he’ll be just another big name who ends up with a big payday elsewhere because he’s just not the right fit.