The smoke has cleared on the Julius Peppers saga.
What started as an impassioned plea for a new team, contract, and position has ended with the disgruntled defensive end folding like a lawn chair and signing his franchise tender.
Further cementing Peppers' Maginot Line is the news from the Charlotte Observer that Peppers is now open to signing an extension with the same team he so publicly condemned only months ago.
Just to recap the soap opera, Peppers first refused a contract extension after the 2007 season that would have reportedly made him the highest paid player in the NFL.
Following an embarrassing loss at home in the playoffs to the upstart Arizona Cardinals, a game where Peppers was completely ineffective, he came out through his agent and stated strongly his desire to play elsewhere.
It is now clear the Panthers never had any intention of letting him walk, and slapped the franchise tender on him soon after inking left tackle Jordan Gross to a long-term contract.
Instead of signing his tender and working the problem out behind the scenes, Peppers instead decided on taking the most rash courses of action possible.
If you're trying to maximize your chances of being traded out of a city, first you make it legally possible for your team to do so. By not signing his tender until yesterday, Peppers made it impossible for general manger Marty Hurney to field offers from other teams. Anything else would be tampering.
If you're trying to maximize your chances of being traded out of a city, you don't limit your choices to four teams, all of which your current team plays in 2009. While it was most likely an attempt to have the tag moved off of him, all it did was harden Hurney's resolve and alienate fans.
If you're trying to maximize your chances of being traded out of a city, you don't declare your preference to play a position in the 3-4 you've never played before, especially when everyone in the NFL knows you're not built for it.
All of these perplexing decisions have led Peppers, with his head bowed, back to the team he tried to hard to scorn.
Perhaps the players on the team understand this better than the fans, but he'll have to work hard to regain the trust and confidence of those that will make his $17 million salary possible.
Looking back on other holdouts makes this even more embarrassing.
Sean Gilbert was traded from the Redskins after sitting out a year and claiming God wanted him to sign a bigger contract. Corey Dillon stated he'd rather work at McDonald's than suit up with the Bengals again.
Outside the NFL, NBA guard Latrell Sprewell famously claimed he "had a family to feed."
Hopefully, Peppers will be able to console himself knowing he could feed quite a few players families with the contract he had to settle on.
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