If Julius Peppers Won't Play for Carolina, Where Does He Go?
Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers indicated on Tuesday he has no interest in playing for the Panthers anymore.
Peppers gave a long, rambling interview on a Charlotte radio station, indicating he's not happy with Carolina despite being one of the highest paid players in the NFL.
According to the NFLPA, Peppers' 2009 salary of $16.6 million ranks third on the "highest paid" list behind only Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb.
It may surprise you to learn Tom Brady only makes $14 million, fifth on that list. It's a wonder that guy can get by (Number four is Matt Cassel).
The core of Peppers unhappiness is the direction the Panthers are going and his role on the defense. Fair enough, but his options are limited, and now his agent is taking the Joshua Cribbs route of going public with contract negotiations and saying they're "done" with their current teams.
With that in mind, it's now officially time to speculate on where Peppers may land.
The list of credible candidates is small, but here they are in no particular order.
The Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns need help on their corners and secondary. So how does Peppers fit into this?
Peppers has gone on record saying he wants to be on a defense that will allow him to get more quarterback sacks. While the Browns currently run a 3-4 defense, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has shown a lot of imagination within that system.
It's not outside the realm of possibility to see the Browns line up Ahtyba Rubin at nosetackle next year and slide Shaun Rogers down one side and flank the other side with Peppers.
Browns Owner Randy Lerner is not afraid to spend money, and if Holmgren wants Peppers, the deal could get done.
If there's one thing Andy Reid likes, it's a player with talent like Peppers. Philadelphia is loaded with talented defensive ends, but that doesn't mean Reid couldn't find room for one more.
Philly's pass rush was exposed in the playoffs as not being what it should be, so to say there wouldn't be interest there would be lying.
According to ESPN's Gary Horton, the Eagles could use more consistency on the left side to free Trent Cole up from double teams. Juqua Parker had 8.5 sacks in 2009, but Horton believes the Eagles need an everyday left defensive end.
This option is a longshot, but Philly has the cap room to sign Peppers to the kind of deal he wants, so keep an eye on this situation.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have a problem on their defense, it's gotten old and Belichick wasn't able to plug all the holes last season.
Peppers would want to go to an "elite" team like the Patriots and would most likely thrive under their system.
Peppers has been plagued by accusations he takes plays off, and he has been inconsistent. However, Belichick has rehabbed worse players than Peppers, so this probably wouldn't be an issue.
This team is another longshot, but the Bears definitely could use an upgrade on their defensive line like Peppers. This is not an arguable point.
This situation will come down to money, period. No one is really sure whether or not the Bears will want to shell out the kind of money Peppers is going to want.
So if the Bears want Peppers and are willing to pay his price, he'll go there, if not, he won't.
Take Your Pick
Other rumors have Peppers going to a variety of places like Green Bay and Dallas.
While Green Bay probably could use Peppers, they probably don't want to pay his salary.
On the other hand, while Jerry Jones certainly can afford Peppers' salary, especially in an uncapped year, the Cowboys are okay at Peppers' position and most likely wouldn't be interested.
Plus, there's still the chance Peppers could get the franchise tag again and suit up for one more year for the Panthers.