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Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers is currently scheduled to hit the open market as a free agent unless both sides can get a new deal done or he gets the franchise tag.
Peppers was in a similar situation last year and asked out of Charlotte. The Panthers marked him with the franchise tag that was worth a reported $16.683 million. This year, a franchise designation would cost more than $20 million in a 20 percent increase of his 2009 salary. Teams have between Feb. 11-25 to assign the franchise tag.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Peppers’ agent, Chip Carey, said that the Panthers have not been in talks regarding a contract.
Heading into last weekend’s Pro Bowl, Peppers, who boasts 81 career sacks, left his options open.
“I think anywhere is a potential landing spot,” the 6-foot-7, 283-pounder told reporters. “I’m just trying to get on a team right now. I just want to get a contract. I’m not going to say I want to play for any team. I really haven’t thought about it. That’s an honest answer. I haven’t thought
about playing for X, Y or Z.”
The Ravens can’t comment or contact players that are under contract with other teams, but that doesn’t mean we BaltimoreRavens.com takes a look at the pros and cons can’t discuss the good and bad of such a move in this space.
Pro: At 30, Peppers is still in his prime, coming off the sixth double-digit sack year of eight seasons. Could he be another home run defensive end signing, like the Packers got with Reggie White in 1993?
Con: Despite the solid possibility of an uncapped year, the price surrounding Peppers would be astronomical. He’s reportedly seeking to become the highest-paid defender in the league, which could range from $15-18 million a year. Considering how the Ravens just signed Terrell Suggs to a monster deal, that is a lot of money tied up in the pass rush.
Pro: Adding another elite pass rusher would give more teeth to an aspect of defense that was not up to the Ravens’ typical standards in 2009. In a conference with the likes of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Schaub reign under center, getting to the quarterback is critical.
Con: How much does Peppers really have left? He’s been largely durable, but he has also been known to take off plays here and there, which unfortunately happens often in the NFL.
Pro: Peppers is versatile enough to play in the Ravens’ versatile defense under coordinator Greg Mattison, who likes to generate pressure with his front four. Peppers has also said that he wants to play in a 3-4 defense, which the Ravens regularly utilize.
Con: Just where would Peppers play? With Suggs holding down the rush linebacker position, Jarret Johnson having a breakout 2009 campaign opposite him and Paul Kruger waiting in the wings, there isn’t much room for everyone to get enough reps – at least not for the money involved.
Pro: At a time when the Ravens need to beef up their pass rush – and at a time when the “Final 8″ plan restricts the Ravens in free agency – Baltimore still has the ability to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million or more in year one of the contract. Otherwise, the Ravens would have to wait until one of their UFAs joins another team. And it’s not everyday a player of Pepper’s caliber would hit the market, especially in an uncapped year with so many restrictions.
Con: Even though the Ravens do have that $5.5 million golden bullet, there is only one. So that would essentially take the Ravens out of the race for any other high-priced UFAs (unless one of their signs for a giant deal elsewhere). Again, that’s a lot of money dedicated to one position, especially when there are other obvious needs.
What do you think? Is Peppers worth a look, or no?