I realize we've beaten this topic up a good bit but for some reason I keep coming back to Julius Peppers comments:
"Ideally, I want to be in the best situation possible for myself and for this organization," Peppers said Sunday after the team's had its farewell meeting following Saturday night's 33-13 playoff loss to Arizona. "I’m thankful for everything they’ve done for me.
"I don’t want to leave them crippled or in a bad situation and I don’t want to do that to myself either. Whatever works out best for both sides is what I’m comfortable with."
At first blush I blew this off as contract posturing but the more I think about it the more I think there IS a message in the underlying tone.
So is Peppers saying that "whatever works best for both sides" precludes him staying with the Panthers? I somehow think this ties back to the Kris Jenkins contract debacle. Jenkins left because he thought he should have gotten more money than the Panthers were willing to pay and he did get it, from the Jets.Even though many might argue Jenkins was the best DT in the league (at least Jenkins thought so) the Panthers decided to trade him.
more after the jump...
Peppers is apparently seeking the largest contract in the NFL for a defensive player. Does that by its very nature mean he will not stay in Carolina, because he knows the Panthers as an organization are never going to be the highest paying franchise for any player? Is that really a Carolina mantra?
Let's toss that around for a moment. What if the Panthers drafted a QB in the 2nd round of the upcoming draft who ended up becoming the next Peyton Manning, hell lets say better than Manning in all ways. When his current contract expired does than mean he would certainly be going somewhere else? If that is the impression the star players in the league have then I think the Panthers may have a serious problem. We kept Steve Smith didn't we?
I personally have always thought the Panthers were a very classy franchise, not cheap but also frugal with their money but at the same time willing to pay their stars what they are worth. Peppers doesn't seem to have the same impression because even after a career season (sack-wise) he's not acting like the Panthers can or are willing to afford him. I can't imagine where he would have gotten that impression except from the a fore mentioned Jenkins scenario. It could also come from the fact the Panthers have rarelywent after the big free agents ever since the Sean Gilbert fiasco.
As far as 'crippling' the franchise, last I checked all the teams have the same salary cap. I also don't see where the Panthers have anymore star players (and big salaries) than the Cowboys, Eagles, Giants or Patriots. Hell we had no Pro Bowlers last year and only 2 this year.
In summary, maybe Peppers just wants out of Carolina? I have a hard time with that since he is from NC. Maybe he is poisoned against the Panthers brass because of the Jenkins debacle? I have a hard time with that one too since Peppers has always been well paid whereas Jenkins was a 2nd round pick. Whatever his issue is I think it runs deeper than just salary cap issues. Let's hope its just an isolated incident and not a portending of future negotiations to come.