Peppers’ Problems with Panthers Could Be Good News for Patriots

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Peppers' Problems with Panthers Could Be Good News for Patriots The deadline for Julius Peppers and the Carolina Panthers to reach a long-term deal passed last  Wednesday without an agreement. No big deal, right?

Wrong. It could be huge if you live in New England.

Since last season ended, New England has been tossed around as a very legitimate landing spot for the defensive end. But when Peppers and the Panthers agreed to a one-year deal back on June 24, it looked like he would quickly parlay that into a long-term deal as New Englanders' dreams of seeing Peppers on the Patriots were dashed. Now it is once again a possibility that Peppers could be on the move. Why not to the Patriots?

After missing the deadline, Peppers and the Panthers can't discuss a new contract until the end of next season — when the team will have the option of placing the franchise tag on him again. For now, Peppers is locked into a one-year deal worth at least $16.7 million with a team he has made public he does not want to play for.

"Both sides tried," Peppers' agent Carl Carey told the Tampa Tribune. "Julius feels good about the one-year deal and is ready for the season to begin."

It was just months ago that Peppers publicized his distaste for the only team he has ever suited up for.

?The front office has been informed of my desire to explore opportunities with other NFL teams following the expiration of my contract next month,? Peppers said in a statement, according to ESPN.com. ?At this point in my NFL career, I am seeking new challenges that will allow me to grow, develop and reach my personal potential on the football field.

?I strongly feel that making a move at this time is in my best interest. I appreciate the entire Panthers organization and am thankful for the seven seasons I?ve spent with the team.?

It would be a costly move for a team to bring Peppers aboard, but it's a move that would significantly enhance a team's defense — especially the Patriots' 3-4.

The Patriots would likely have to give up key talent to land Peppers in a trade, though the Panthers might be willing to make a move tailored toward a potential suitor since his contract is so astronomical. And really, any deal that lets the Panthers out of the one-year albatross is a good deal.

There's a good chance Peppers stays put for the 2009 season and continues to extend his franchise sacks lead for the Panthers. For a while, it looked like the 6-foot-7 Peppers and his 70.5 career sacks would be staying in Carolina permanently. That might not be the case anymore.

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