This edition of Paw Prints focuses on today's signing deadline at 4pm for the Panthers and PB DE Julius Peppers to agree to a long term contract. If they fail to do that then we will most likely go through this entire franchising process yet again after the 2009 season. The consensus appears to be that it is not going to happen:
Inside the Panthers: No long-term deal likely for Peppers
The Panthers will have three primary options in January: Try again to sign Peppers to a long-term contract, put their franchise tag on him again at a one-year price of more than $20 million (there's a mandatory 20 percent increase over his '09 tender amount), or let him become an unrestricted free agent without receiving any compensation from another team.
So will the Panthers really pony up $20+M in 2010 for Peppers? I imagine his performance in '09 will be the deciding factor. Why is this important at this point? As pointed out in the Team Report I've linked up next, it has essentially prevented the Panthers from signing any FA's (as we have discussed many times), such as back-up offensive linemen.
Panthers Team Report - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
As it stands now the Panthers are less than $1 million under the salary cap meaning they haven’t had a chance to re-sign any players or add any free agents this offseason.
Now if you are looking for someone to blame in all this fiasco I've always felt Peppers agent Carl Carey should shoulder most of the blame. Darin Gannt gives us all the ammunition we need to point the finger squarely at him:
But the timing makes this deal complicated. With an uncapped year looming and a stack of minutiae which makes doing deals difficult, it's not the time for inexperienced help. The Panthers have smart people working on it, but the reality is, Peppers' agent Carl Carey has never negotiated a contract on his own. He's smart, and obviously loyal, just green. Peppers trusts the guy, so who am I to question him, but there are a lot of people in the business (football, not media) who wonder if Carey's inexperience is the holdup here.
You have to be kidding me right? He's never done it on his own...I'm speechless on that nugget of info.
- Things are looking up for LB Dan Conner and our special teams:
Connor's knee: 'Better and better' each day
"Once we started opening it up, it started coming back," Connor said. "It's more getting the strength back in my hamstrings. But the knee feels secure as it's ever been. "This is what kept me motivated through the season, having to watch and rehab. I didn't miss a day for probably six months straight. It's all for getting back on the field and feeling how you felt when you first got here. I've been looking forward to this. "It gets better and better each day."
- CB CJ Wilson says new DC Ron Meeks reminds him an uncle:
Wilson leaps at opportunity
"(Meeks) is like that uncle that sits on the porch when you're out playing football in the front yard. He's going to tell you every little move," Wilson said. "I love it. It's good. We all love it."
At least he's not talking about the 'crazy' uncle we all have, right?
- Former Panther Mike Minter continues to give back to the community. Here's my favorite Q&A from this post:
CC: You are an athlete, philanthropist, and businessman. People think they know you based upon what they read in the media. In your own words, describe Mike Minter—the man.
MM: Mike Minter is a motivated person who wants to bring out the best in people. People are my passion. I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all together. I sometimes make bad decisions, but, it is just part of the learning curve as I try to figure it out just like everybody else.