Going into the offseason, there is one matter that dominates all conversation. What will the Panthers do with Julius Peppers? We have four options, we can let his salary expire, we can extend him, we can tag him and pay him 20 million to play this season for us, or we can tag and trade. Personally I have very little faith in the first option, as it is uncapped, we can afford whatever is going to happen. I remain a firm believer that he will re-sign with us, but his agent is testing my faith. I believe Hurney has learned what happens when you pay a guy that much of your cap, so he won't make that mistake again. So that leaves tag and trade, or an extension. And for the sake of a topic, lets assume the former. What would trading Peppers leave the landscape looking like?
First of all we have to look at the effect on our own team. Without Julius Peppers, our D-line is noticeably less ferocious. Peppers has a unique ability to completely dominate and take over a game, ask Favre this year, Brees last year, and any sub .500 opponent. ;) His athletic ability is unmatched by anyone else in the game IMO, and if he is a Panther next season our chances of winning the Super Bowl are raised significantly. Also I think his motivational issues are a thing of the past. BUT his motivation is still a question. We have adequate replacements on the roster. Brayton, Johnson, and Brown are no Julius Pepppers, but if anyone says we won't be able to get pressure with them they are sadly mistaken. There will be a dropoff, but not an impossible one to scale. Add to that the extra cap space and picks that trading Peppers would free up, and it would be worth it long term. Our short term success may take a hit, but then again it might not. It's a gamble. So lets look at the possible trades that could work out for us.
Option A; Julius Peppers to San Francisco for a first rounder (either one).
This pick makes sense for the Niners. They need a pass rusher, and Peppers is one heck of a pass rusher. He has also shown an ability to drop into coverage and a desire to play in the 3-4. With the Niners pick, many options are made open to us. Any of the top three receivers will likely be available, as well as some great value picks such as Derrick Morgan, Carlos Dunlap, Rolando Mclain, or even Brian Price.
Option B; Julius Peppers to New England for their top two second round picks
New England needs a pass rush, and Peppers wants to play in a 3-4. New England was one of the teams he listed last season I believe. With those two extra second rounders, we will have a shot at a lot of very good talent. We will even have flexibility to trade up. Because of the large draft range, I won't list every prospect we could nab, but a few highlights should suffice. Golden Tate, Terence Cody, Damian Williams, Jason Pierre Paul, Brandon Graham, and Jerry Hughes.
Option C; Julius Peppers and a fifth round pick to Arizona for Anquan Boldin.
Arizona needs a rush backer, we need a WR, both players are "unhappy", it makes sense.
Option D; Julius Peppers to Denver for Brandon Marshall and a fifth round pick.
First of all McDaniels is an idiot. As a coach, your ego should not get in your way, it has cost you nearly every weapon you've had on offense. Cutler was traded, Marshall appears to be on his way out, and you underutilize two great weapons in Eddie Royal and Tony Scheffler. So we might get away with this. Personally I wouldn't trade for Marshall, his ego isn't worth it, and he is one of those guys who is a magnet for trouble. But who knows, Smith might knock some sense into him, literally. :D And he has talent, no doubt, he would make us a deadly offense. As for Denver and Peppers, Peppers natural position would be rush linebacker, a small need for Denver. However, Pep is versatile, and I think he could be good at DE in Denvers scheme. Moving Peppers around, you never know what's going to happen with him in that defense.
These are only a few options, many teams are looking for an elite pass rusher. And even those who aren't would appreciate someone of Peppers caliber. Chime in with your possible trade scenarios below.