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Monday, February 9, 2009

Gross/Peppers - down to the wire?

Since this blog's inception, offseason talk has included or revolved around Jordan Gross and Julius Peppers. At that point, two seasons ago, you'd assume that seeing the pair in the Pro Bowl would be an unquestionably happy moment.

But, after two years' work attempting to sign the pair, neither are. One, Gross, wants to stay. The other, Peppers, is clear on wanting to move on. As always, the pair seem tangled in each other - if Gross can't sign, the team may hesistate to franchise and trade Peppers. They have ten days to choose to franchise one or the other, and will probably lose both if not wrapped up.

And, at this point, things don't look promising for a Gross contract right now, according to Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette. It doesn't put things out of reach by any means, however.

As well, I don't think the franchise tag should be involved with Gross. In what would cost $9 million for another year's rental, Gross could string this process out for years, gaining guaranteed money every year while continuing to get both raises and opportunities for free agency.

But the franchise tag belongs on the bigger commodity - Peppers. The commodity that will allow them to reap something for such a talented but troubled player. For that, it may be worth chancing Gross walking. Franchising Gross keeps Gross, something that should've happened anyway, to the detriment of getting something for Peppers.

Don't get me wrong. If you have to choose one Pro Bowler over another, being willing to stay and being a big part of the running game's success makes Gross the guy to keep. But franchise tagging has to be done by the 19th - you have until the 27th to sign guys to keep them from free agency. And putting the franchise tag on Peppers does two things - it opens the market for Peppers trades, and it makes sure to tell Gross that it's a long term deal if he wants to stay.

Even if that means chancing losing him.
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