Julius Peppers, Carolina Panthers Agree on Franchise Tender

Brad MillsCorrespondent IJune 24, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  NFL player Julius Peppers and guest sits courtside in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on May 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

According to the Charlotte Observer, Carolina Panthers franchise player Julius Peppers has signed his tender. He will earn $16.683 million in 2009, and will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season.

This ends a dramatic holdout in which Peppers refused to play again for the Panthers, requested a switch to another position, and released a list of teams to whom he would allow himself to be traded.

"Julius is more than satisfied with the outcome of this...He is ready to play football," said Peppers' agent Carl Carey.

This statement is hardly convincing.

A matter of months ago, Carey released a mystery list of teams Peppers wanted to play for. Peppers has been less than forthcoming on the issue, refusing to speak to the Charlotte press on the subject.

Head coach John Fox has been just as silent, but even more confident, saying he fully anticipated that Peppers would report for training camp.

Panthers linebacker Jon Beason had also been in contract negotiations with the disgruntled defensive end, and hinted that he might return for training camp.

I've written at length about the inconsistencies with Peppers' trade demands. It's been impossible to write about the Panthers this summer without mentioning them.

Now it's time to speculate on what might come of this latest action.

The first note of interest is that Panthers general manager Marty Hurney is now allowed to field trade offers for Peppers from other teams. Until today, Peppers was not officially part of the team, but not a free agent.

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Only Carey was allowed to talk with other teams and act as an arbitrator.

If the Panthers feel confident with their defensive end rotation after organized team activities, they might trade Peppers and try to rebuild in the 2010 draft.

They recently traded their 2010 first-rounder to take defensive end Everette Brown.

Assuming Peppers isn't traded, it will be interesting to see how it mixes up the defensive end rotation in practice. During OTAs, Brown was playing in Peppers' spot, with Charles Johnson on the opposite end. It would appear that Tyler Brayton is the odd man out in that mix.

The battle to line up opposite Peppers should be fierce.

If Coach Fox really plans on having Peppers on the field this year in a Panthers uniform, it's imperative they rebuild bridges that might have been burned with the fanbase.

Many felt betrayed by Peppers' trade demands, and it might take more than a quick start and an impressive year to win them back.

Stay tuned to my channel as the situation develops.


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