I was recently asked how I thought a trade between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers for Julius Peppers would work. The trade would have to involve freeing up some cap space, even though the Patriots have 11 picks in this year's draft to trade away.
That got me thinking.
The Patriots recently added running back Fred Taylor to the roster, who now projects to be the starter for 2009. They've still got Sammy Morris, who looked really good last season when he wasn't injured. You can't forget to mention Kevin Faulk and BenJarvis Green-Ellis, who both played important roles in the Patriots' offense last year when half the starters were on the injury report.
Laurence Maroney, who was drafted by the Patriots in 2006, has not yet managed a 1,000-yard season for New England. He's been on and off the injury report, and even when he's completely healthy, fans and media alike have questioned his ability to carry the load as an every-down running back.
Do the Panthers have a need for a first-string running back?
Not with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart effectively carrying the load. But, would it hurt to bring in a guy who can spell them in a backup role, and step into a starting role if one of Williams or Stewart were to be injured?
The Panthers recently signed DeCori Birmingham to be their third-string running back.
DeCori who? Exactly.
Is it possible that the signing of Taylor was in preparation of losing Maroney while his trade value is still decent?
Maroney's contract isn't huge by any means, as he's due to make $600 thousand this year, but it might be just enough to bring in Peppers if he's willing to structure his contract in a way that allows the Patriots to make a move.
I'm thinking that a deal which would include Maroney and a second round pick might be enough to get it done.
In any case, the draft is about three weeks away. One would assume that if New England is going to attempt to secure Peppers, they'll want to do it soon.
If they do find a way to do it...watch out AFC.