Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Haven't we seen this before?

So the Carolina Panthers-Julius Peppers saga drags into the 2010 off-season. Anyone that didn't see this coming was blind.

Apparently, Peppers and his agent Carl Carey are among the visually impaired.

Yes, Peppers had a fine Pro Bowl worthy season in 2009, and yes, he did so while playing under the franchise tag.

By the way, that franchise tag means he's got the biggest one-year contract on the football team, and since it was a one-year deal, it amounted to him playing in another contract year. He put up very good numbers, and save from a few games early, was a force throughout much of the season.

Peppers was a guest on WFNZ's morning show on Tuesday, and apparently, his season was worthy of Carolina racing to his door the day after the season, and present him with a new offer. Well, that didn't happen. Nor did it happen the day after. Or the day after that, and so on. According to Peppers, there has been no contact between the team and his camp in regards to a new deal, and since "the silence says a lot," he's thinking about playing elsewhere next season.

I would just like to remind Peppers that there may be more to the Panthers silence than his perception that they just aren't that into him.

There is this little matter of a looming work stoppage in 2011, and with all that uncertainty, very few, and I mean VERY FEW teams are looking at doing long term contract with even their biggest stars. Colts QB Peyton Manning and Saints QB Drew Brees are the most talked about exceptions at this point. Interesting that the guys in line for long term deals are quarterbacks. You know, the guy that touches the ball on 99% of the plays in which he is on the field.

As the title of this blog suggests, we have been down this road before with Peppers and the Panthers. 12 months ago, in fact. You remember the script, right? The Panthers say little, if anything, about how they plan to spend their money. Peppers agent starts vocalized his thoughts in the media. The Panthers say little, if anything in return. The fan base gets cranky, and in the end, Peppers gets tagged, and plays for big bucks under a one-year deal.

The script is the same right now, only the outcome may be very different. Peppers could be in a different NFL city this summer for training camp. I wonder if Carolina is simply done with shelling out 8-figure, one-year deals to him.

Most revealing about the Panthers radio interview from Tuesday was this nugget. Peppers says the Panthers offered him a long term deal in the 2008 off-season. Panther fans remember the Houdini-esque season of big number 90. 2.5 sacks highlighting his 2008 greatest (non) hits. AFTER THAT SEASON, the Panthers STILL offered him a long-term deal that would have made him the highest-paid defensive player in the league, albeit slightly, according to Peppers. Peppers said that he didn't feel the offer was sincere, and I can only guess it's because they didn't make him far and away the highest paid guy. Then Peppers said he couldn't take that deal, because of the performance he put out in 2008.

So, the Panthers made an insincere offer to make him the highest paid defensive player in the league after a 2.5 sack season, and he refused it because he didn't feel right about taking that kind of money?

No team makes "insincere" offers to make people the highest paid anything, ESPECIALLY after they go through a 16 game season with 2.5 sacks.

If Carolina let's Peppers walk as an unrestricted free agent, it will be a call made by Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. Fans will be angry that Carolina didn't trade him to get something in return, and that's fine. It won't be because GM Marty Hurney didn't try to move him. It will simply be because Richardson is tired of this whole situation, and will just move on.

I sincerely hope all sides are happy when this is finished. Sincerely.


Congrats to Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace for being selected to the 2010-2012 USA Basketball National Team Program. The 2012 Olympic team will come from the 27 players named on Wednesday. It may be a longshot for Wallace to be on that squad, as 9 members of the 2008 gold medal winning team are coming back, too. Still, he's just 1 of 27 players selected to this camp, quite an honor for sure.


Charlotte Checkers will become the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, and that relationship will begin in the 2010-2011 season. Changes abound, but this deal is a good one for hockey in the state. The NHL team and its top minor league affiliate will now be separated by just 2.5 hours by car, and significantly less by plane. Hopefully, this move will bring more fans out to see this franchise play. Being a former hockey player myself, I know this will be a good thing for the sports scene. I can only tell you how good it is--you'll have to see it for yourself.

More on all of these items on Sports Night at 10!

Mike Solarte

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