Reports this week indicated that the Panthers were in trade discussions with the Patriots involving franchised defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers has made public his desire to play for a new franchise in 2009, preferably one that employs a 3-4 defense which would allow him to line up as a pass rushing outside linebacker.
The theory was the Patriots could use his services in their 3-4, they have an extra 2nd round pick courtesy of the Matt Cassel trade and the Panthers need the additional cap space that moving Peppers and his $16.7-million 2009 salary would provide. Connect the dots and voilà, Peppers to the Pats.
Unfortunately, there a number of hiccups with this scenario. First off, Peppers has not signed his franchise tender. This has two implications – only players under contract can be traded and teams are not allowed to discuss trades for players that are not under contract.
Second and more importantly, the Panthers are not about to accept a below market offer for Peppers, particularly when their fan base is aware of the price the Vikings paid last year to obtain Jared Allen from the Chiefs. Minnesota gave up their 1st round pick (17th overall) and two 3rd round picks to obain Allen. It is even arguable that Peppers is more talented than Allen, although Allen plays with a higher motor, is more consistent and has posted better sack totals over the past two years (30.5 sacks for Allen to 17 for Peppers). It would be difficult for Panthers management to argue that Peppers’ value is the same as Cassel which is essentially what such a trade would suggest.
Finally, the Panthers don’t have a replacement on their roster for Peppers and don’t have a 1st round pick this year to help them in this regard. The Panthers traded their 2009 1st round pick to the Eagles last year in order to select offensive tackle Jeff Otah. Charles Johnson had the second most sacks on the team last year with six but is not in the same class as Peppers and would likely see his sack total decrease without Peppers lining up opposite of him.