Perhaps the solution to the Panthers’ predicament involving unhappy All-Pro Julius Peppers is to trade one former Tar Heel defensive end for another.
UNC alumni Peppers and Dallas Cowboy Greg Ellis both desire a change of venues and each could benefit from wearing a different uniform next year.
Peppers, who at UNC won the Lombardi Award as the best collegiate lineman in 2001, made it clear in January that he wanted out of Charlotte.
He cited a conviction that he had “maxed-out” his potential there and also a desire to move to a 3-4 defense that he felt would better utilize his unique talents.
Ellis, an All-American at UNC in 1997 who still holds the school record for most career sacks, wants out of Dallas. The Cowboys' move in 2006 to the 3-4 defense made him the odd man out. Still, Ellis has continued to put up big numbers. His resume includes the 2007 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award and a Pro Bowl selection.
This trade makes sense for both teams and for both players.
For the Cowboys, they would get a freakish athlete in Peppers who, at age 28, still has a lot of football left in him. They will also get a player who has never been a locker room distraction and does not stir trouble in the media—a welcome change in a locker room that included Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Tank Johnson last year.
Since his pronouncement in January, Peppers has been in seclusion and has not thrown Panthers’ management or coaches under the bus. He is a player who is able to check his ego at the door and could become a leader in a revamped Dallas locker room.
With their release of Owens, Jones, and others in the offseason, the Cowpokes should have plenty of salary cap space to absorb the huge contract that Peppers would demand.
Peppers would get to play for a Super Bowl contender and be able to showcase his talents in the defensive system he is enamored with.
Carolina would benefit as well.
The Panthers would unload Peppers’ huge salary, set to cost them over $16 million this year. The signing of Ellis, who was set to make $4.15 million this year in Dallas, would enable Carolina to fill the void of a dominant pass rusher that would be there with the departure of Peppers while still leaving them room to address other needs.
Ellis, who at age 33 still has several good years left in his tank, would be a good stopgap measure until rookie Everette Brown can mature.
With salary cap relief, the Cats could sign offensive line depth and fill some holes in their secondary.
It seems to be a “win-win” situation for all involved.
The Tar Heel fraternity is known to be tight-knit. This Tar Heel transaction of Ellis for Peppers might be just what the doctor ordered for both Carolina and the Cowboys.