Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers is not going to be playing in Charlotte next season. Unless something unforeseen and unexpected happens the Panthers will announce today that they will not put the franchise tag on the All-Pro defensive end, thus making him a free agent at the end of the week.
If the team put the tag on Peppers it would have cost them 20 million dollars plus another 1.4 million if he made the Pro Bowl again. They could put the tag on him and then look to make a trade but it would be very difficult to get a team to take on that much salary, especially with an uncapped season and potential lockout looming in 2011.
So this means one of the all-time great defensive players in the NFL will roll out of Carolina and the only thing the Panthers will have to show for it is 20 million extra dollars in the bank. I can’t say that I blame them for not franchising Peppers, I mean it is hard to justify paying anyone 300,000 dollars per quarter. Peppers is great, maybe the best defensive end in the league, but I am not sure I’d pay him more than a million dollars per sack either.
It is a shame the team won’t get any compensation. I was hoping to see them make a move that could have gotten them a first round pick in the April draft. Remember, they traded their first pick the past two years to get running back Jonathan Stewart and offensive lineman Jeff Otah. Unless they make some sort of move, they won’t pick until the middle of the second round.
One last thing on Peppers. I know some people questioned his work ethic and dedication, but I can say I always thought he was amazing. Just a supreme athlete. From his playing days at North Carolina (both in hoops and football) to his entire time in Charlotte, he made so many huge plays. I think the Panthers can survive without Peppers but he will certainly be missed. It just won’t be the same without number 90 running around Bank Of America Stadium on Sunday’s.