Peppers, Panthers set to do the same dance in 2010

According to a report by the Charlotte Observer, the Carolina Panthers and defensive end Julius Peppers are setting themselves up for dilemma in 2010 similar to the one they just went through this offseason.

The deadline for a team to sign a franchise player to a long-term contract ends today and apparently the Panthers and Peppers remain far apart on a deal. After he signed his one-year tender on June 24, the hope was that the two sides could come together on a long-term deal but so far, no such luck.

That means that the Panthers will face a similar problem next offseason when they’ll have to decide to either try and re-sign Peppers to a long-term deal, franchise him, or let him walk via free agency. Any one of the three options has its positives and negatives.

If Peppers wants to play elsewhere, then forcing Carolina to make another tough decision next offseason is smart. But if he wants to cash in on a massive contract before his playing days are over, the window to do so is closing considering he turns 30 next January.

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Peppers signs franchise tender

The wait is finally over for the Panthers, as defensive end Julius Peppers will sign his tender on Wednesday according to the team’s official website. He’ll earn $16.683 million this season.

The Panthers could still try and trade him, but it’s doubtful that they find any suitors who will be willing to give up draft picks and long-term money. It’s more likely at this point that the Panthers sign Peppers to a long-term deal than trade him. Carolina wants to win now and with John Fox and GM Marty Hurney’s jobs seemingly on the line every year, draft picks for future years don’t help them in the present.

Peppers wanted to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The Panthers hired Ron Meeks to replace Mike Trgovac as defensive coordinator and while Meeks isn’t necessarily a scheming genius, Dwight Freeney excelled under him in Indianapolis so Peppers could thrive in Carolina’s new scheme.

It’ll be interesting to hear what Peppers says once he reports to training camp in a month. If he’s going to be bitter all season about the Panthers franchising him, then it’s going to be a long year. But if he shows up hell bent on having a great year so he could hit the market and prove his free agent worth, then maybe both he and the team can get what they want out of the situation.

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