Four landing spots for Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers is ruling out a long-term deal with the Panthers, making it more and more likely that he won’t return to Carolina next season.

With that in mind, here are four possible landing spots for the defensive end next season.

Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are loaded with depth at the defensive end position, headlined by Trent Cole and rounded out by Juqua Parker, Darren Howard, Victor Abiamiri, Chris Clemons and Jason Babin. But they still lack that playmaker opposite Cole that could really wreak some havoc in defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s aggressive scheme. Unless a sleeper prospect falls to them in the middle rounds, it’s unlikely that the Eagles will be able to address their defensive end need via the draft. That’s where Peppers comes in. If Philly decides to be aggressive this offseason, they may try to acquire Peppers whether the Panthers decide to franchise tag him or not. (They may be in line to acquire more draft picks if/when they trade Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick.) Paired with Cole, the Eagles would have one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league.

Atlanta Falcons
Jamaal Anderson hasn’t turned out to be the pass-rushing force opposite John Abraham that the Falcons envisioned he would be when they selected the former Razorback with the eighth overall pick in 2007. Worse yet, after racking up 16.5 sacks in 2008, Abraham (the team’s best pass rusher) only produced 5.5 QB take downs last season and will turn 32 in early May. Some feel as though Abraham has lost a step, but he would flourish playing opposite Peppers on the same defensive line. Pep would also make the vastly underrated Jonathan Babineaux and 2009 first round pick Peria Jerry even more dangerous on the inside, but the question now becomes whether or not the Falcons will be active in free agency. GM Thomas Dimitroff didn’t make any significant splashes last offseason, instead opting to build his roster via the draft. But if Dimitroff decides to be aggressive, then Peppers makes a lot of sense for a team like Atlanta, which is clearly on the rise but needs to plug some of its defensive holes.

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