Far be it for me to suggest that Patriots HC Bill Belichick is a genius or anything close to that but I have admit he is right about one thing. If Julius Peppers wants to leave Carolina he needs to sign his franchise tender. In an interview earlier today Bilichick seemed to be sending a coded message to Peppers and his agent Carl Carey:
"I don’t think that’s a good way to do business," he said on his WEEI appearance. "I personally would not do it that way. I think if a player wants to be traded or wants to be in a position where he could be traded, then the best thing for that player to do is do what Matt Cassel did, sign the tender, be under contract, and then go to the team and say, ’Okay, I don’t want to be here, trade me, this is where I want to go.’ I mean, that was essentially the Deion Branch situation."
Just like you I have hard time trusting anything this guy says (remember spy-gate?) but I have to agree I don't understand why Peppers hasn't signed the tender. Jared Allen signed his, the aforementioned Branch and Matt Cassel did as well.They all ended up in good situations.
NFL team owners for the most part don't trust agents and they will already be leery of conducting what will surely be the blockbuster trade of the year. Team owners know each other and prefer to deal directly with each other rather than having some agent act as a go-between. How stupid would an owner feel to sit down with another team thinking they had a deal only to find the agent had not been dealing with them straight?
I also never understood why Peppers issued his so-called 'list' of approved teams when the only person that could do anything with this list is his agent. Maybe this is a case of an agent trying to control the situation in order to justify his huge fee when what he really needs to do is get out of the way. Here's what Carey had to say about the Patriots and the unsigned tender:
"While Julius is interested in the Patriots and a few other teams in the league, he is comfortable with the position he’s in right now, Carey said. In the event we are unable to reach an agreement (with another team), Julius will be among the highest paid defensive players next season, and we will be comfortable with that. Were not in a position where we have to act hastily."
Well Carl you have already taken plenty of time and you have to know that once the draft is over Peppers will have lost his opportunity to land that big contract in 2009 (and you a big fee). Next year Peppers will hit the magic age of 30 and that will certainly not help his value. He won't get a bigger offer than the one he could get right now.
I think Carey is actually trying to drag this thing out to the last minute in order to force the Panthers to take a low-ball offer from Peppers team of choice. I don't think the Panthers are that stupid and instead Carey is going to hurt his client. If Peppers would sign the tender now then the Panthers could talk to a bunch of owners next week at the owners meetings and work out a deal. Peppers still holds veto power by refusing to sign a long-term contract. No team is going to risk losing him after one season and besides, they aren't going to want to pay $16M for his services in 2009 anyway.
So here is how the process should work:
1 - Peppers signs franchise tender
2 - Panthers contact teams on Peppers list
3 - Panthers negotiate the best deal with one of the preferred teams
4 - Peppers agent negotiates contract with preferred, best bid team
5 - Panthers trade Peppers to preferred, best bid team
Bam and then everyone is happy and we can move on to the business of winning a Super Bowl.