Topping the list of 235 potential NFL unrestricted free agents is Julius Peppers. Peppers, who is expected to not be hit with the franchise tag, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at midnight on Mar. 5.
Peppers has played eight years in the NFL, all for the Panthers. He has missed only six games and recorded 81 sacks in his career, and is due for a big payday when free agency starts. Peppers has publicly shared his desire to move on from the Carolina Panthers and to play in a 3-4 defense.
Peppers is ready to make a big splash in free agency.
"I feel good about having the opportunity to visit with other teams. My goal will be to find the right match for my skill set.
"I am thankful for the eight seasons I have spent in the National Football League thus far, and am looking forward to beginning this new phase of my career," he added.
If Peppers was to get the franchise tag, it would cost the panthers $21.4 million—$1.3 million a game. At that price it may be too expensive for the Panthers.
Potential Landing Spots for Julius Peppers:
1. New England Patriots: The Patriots have been linked to Peppers since last offseason. Rumors say that they will continue to look for that pass rusher they have been missing since trading Richard Seymour. The price may be too much after tagging Vince Wilfork, though.
2. Philliadelphia Eagles: The Eagles lack pass rushing ability, and they need someone to play opposite Trent Cole. The Eagles are a couple of good players away from being an elite team and having a pass rushing monster in Julius Peppers can vastly improve an already good secondary. Although, Peppers has the desire of playing OLB in a 3-4 defense and the Eagles run a 4-3 defense.
3. Alanta Falcons: The Falcons would love to have their rival's best player on their team. Peppers would help make a young secondary better and improve the pass rush. He would improve the defense as well as DTs Jonathan Babineaux and 2009 first-round pick Peria Jerry. The Falcons are looking for the next piece to their defensive line since Jamaal Anderson hasn't turned into the pass rusher they thought he would be. He would also take the pressure off of John Abraham, who had 16.5 sacks in 2008 but only 5.5 QB takedowns in 2009. The Falcons run a 4-3 Defense and Peppers wants to play in a 3-4 OLB position.
4.Green Bay Packers: After making the switch to the 3-4 last offseason, the Packers are in need of another OLB to play opposite of 2009 first-round pick Clay Mathews. Peppers said he wouldn't mind playing OLB in a 3-4 defense. The Packers may be looking for another OLB. Aaron Kampman is an unrestricted free agent on Mar. 5 and had a season ending ACL injury.
5. Miami Dolphins: With the need of an OLB to fill the holes of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor, who are rumored to not be returning to the Dolphins next season, Peppers could fill that hole along with Cameron Wake, who was signed last offseason from the BC Lions. Porter is going to be released when the new year starts on Mar. 5 and Jason Taylor is up in the air on returning to Miami next year. Although Bill Parcells doesn't spend a lot of money on free agents, he may make a splash in the upcoming "uncapped year".
We will have to wait and see what teams and Julius Peppers decide to do for the 2010 NFL season.