I was on the verge of writing another "Postulating Where Peppers Will Land" post, this time focusing on Denver as a couple of my readers have suggested. Yet it is complete speculation at this point and honestly it's getting old. No other bloggers want to talk about signing Peppers because of the high price tag and the fact the topic has already been beaten to death on their respective sites.
A few writers out there though think the Panthers should approach Denver about a trade for QB Jay Cutler. I'm pretty convinced there is no way they would trade him. Why would they trade a 25 year old 1st round pick that played well last season? I think the Broncos trying to get Matt Cassell was simply the new HC wanting to get a QB he is familiar with and got ratted out by someone in the Patriots organization. Funny that Cassell ended up in KC so now the Broncos will be able to compare the 2 QB's twice a season going forward. So it seems the final word in Denver now is that Cutler will not be traded. I guess you can believe it or not but I'm thinking they are definitely keeping him.
So would the Broncos we interested in trading picks for Peppers? I have no idea at this point but I imagine Mr. Julius Peppers is going through a bit of a reality check at this point. Did he think a deal would have been done by now? I bet he did. With most of the big FA names having settled on a deal cap space is drying up. I imagine Peppers agent is telling him that as the draft approaches the Panthers will get desperate and drop his asking price. I'm thinking the Panthers are prepared to pay the franchise tender as they have been saying. If Peppers sticks to his guns as well he will have no other choice but to play for Carolina or sit out the season. That seems drastic but I wouldn't put it past him. Seriously though, would he actually turn down $16.7M to sit on his principles? I'm thinking no way.
We do need to consider the worst case scenario though Panther fans and that is Pep coming back for the cap killing number of $16.7M. The Panthers would still need to clear a little space to sign some depth on the offensive line and to sign the five draft picks we select in April. With pick numbers #59, 93, 124, 155, & 189 I doubt any of them would crack the starting line-up. So essentially the Panthers would start the 2009 season with the same team as 2008, the only significant differences being the depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
The obvious move to clear the needed space is to trade or cut CB Ken Lucas. I imagine Richard Marshall is ready to step up so that is doable. So how would I feel about our chances of repeating 2008 in 2009? Given how tough our 2009 schedule is (which I discussed here), not too good.
The only positive is that none of the other NFC South teams have done much in free agency as well. They seem to be standing on what they have as well so that might bode well for the division champ Panthers. I think we can all agree that the NFC South will not shine as brightly as it did last season given the division match-ups and forecasted down year for the Bucs. Ten wins will probably win the division outright I bet. So is Peppers staying our worst case scenario? Honestly that's not a bad scenario to live with.