Is Julius Peppers Going to New England Patriots or Not?

Deb LagardeCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2009

It seems the AFC East is going bonkers in the free agency period.

The Jets are signing what seems like every former Ravens' defender they can get their hands on. Also, with the team in definite need of a quarterback, they might go after Denver's prima donna, Jay Cutler, who wants off the Broncos.

The Dolphins, who went wild in 2007 and 2008, are not making that kind of noise in 2009. But they have still managed to raid the Raiders for two of their better players, Wilson and Grove, and got another good defense back from the Cardinals, Green.

What about the Bills?

They signed T.O., enough said.

The Patriots are signing various pretty good to good players. Mostly older guys for depth, so that if they have another injury-plagued season, perhaps they will not have to worry so much.

Just a day or so ago, reports on NFL.com and other sources claimed Carolina's wonderful sack-happy defensive end Julius Peppers, who has said all along he wants off the Panthers, has been traded to New England.

Uh, maybe not.

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According to the Carolina Panthers front office, they have not heard about any trade talk between Peppers, his agent, or the Patriots' organization. They do not know what compensation would be given them for Peppers.

A swap would likely require Peppers to sign his "franchise tag" tender of about $16 million, anyhow.

I suppose he could be dealt without doing so, but the Patriots would have to satisfy the Panthers' every demand. Word has it New England is ready to give up the pick it acquired in the Kansas City trade, a second-rounder, but that may not be enough here.

Thus, it seems that if Peppers does not sign his tender contract, he cannot be traded to anyone. But since he does not want to play for the Panthers anymore, this could mean he sits out next season.

Seems a waste of talent.

However, maybe the Panthers were just being cagier than usual, assigning the franchise tag to Peppers.

None of this precludes Peppers talking to other teams, so we may yet see more interesting turns in this road. 

Hold on to your hats then Pats' fans!

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