Julius Peppers will not be a Panther in 2009

juliuspeppers‘Tis the season to hand out franchise tags. The Patriots already slapped one on overrated signal caller Matt Cassel. Two days ago the Giants followed suit and tagged bruising running back Brandon Jacobs. It will cost the Pats $14.65 million to keep Cassel. Way too much. The G-Men will have to dole out $6.62 million to retain Jacobs. Seems fair to me.

It’s easy to see why most teams avoid the franchise tag altogether. The price is not right. Which brings me to Julius Peppers. The soon to be free-agent defensive end, according to NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan, will carry a $17 million cap hit if the Panthers elect to tag him. That’s $17 MILLION!! In addition, Jordan Gross, the Cats other high profile free-agent, will cost $8.45 million.

There is no way the Panthers can afford to keep both players without destroying their 2009 cap. One, if not both, will hit the streets on February 27. In my opinion, it will be Peppers. I can’t imagine a team would pony up 17 large for a quarterback, let alone a defensive end. Besides, Peppers has been grumbling since season’s end about wanting to play elsewhere – maybe in 3-4 style defense.

As for all this 3-4 talk, let me just say this. Peppers is NOT a 3-4 OLB or defensive end. He can’t stand up and play in space because he’s not quick enough. Maybe five years ago, but not now. OLBs in a 3-4 defense are between 250-265 pounds. Peppers is 280. If he believes he’s Demarcus Ware, he’s got a screw loose. If I was an NFL GM, I wouldn’t sign him to a position he’s never played a down at, especially when he’s entering his 8th season. Not for the amount of cash it will take to land him.

And he’s not powerful enough to stick his hand in the dirt to play end in a 3-4 alignment. You’d be able to run on him all day. Richard Seymour is the prototype 3-4 end and he weighs 310 pounds. Again, Peppers is 280. So, if he wants to move away from a standard 4-3 defense, he’ll find the going a lot tougher than he thinks. I’ll be interested to see which 3-4 teams go after him if he’s available. The Cowboys or Dolphins would be likely pursuers. Although, I wonder if Bill Parcells would really sign him.

Regardless of the style of defense, it seems clear to me that Peppers will be wearing a new uniform in 2009. Does this knowledge make him any more appealing to Eagles Nation? It does to me. I’ve said before that pairing him up with Trent Cole would make one deadly duo. And the Birds do have a history of signing big ticket defensive free agents. Of course, all of my ramblings are pointless if Peppers is determined to go to  3-4 defense.

I’m of the belief that they still need another legit pass rusher. I don’t trust Juqua Parker, Chris Clemons and Victor Abiamiri are enough. They’re all solid backups, but none are starters. Sign Peppers, then use the draft to fill the needs on offense. The Eagles have over $32 million in cap space. More than plenty to make some noise this off-season.

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Tags: Brandon Jacobs Carolina Panthers Eagles Franchise Tag Free Agency Jordan Gross Julius Peppers Matt Cassel Pat Kirwan

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