It's that time of year again (the annual questions of Julius Peppers' contract), and the second annual performance for Julius Peppers' agent, Carl Carey. Luckily, the camp hasn't made demands about the franchise tag or not playing for Carolina, and have even found a way to not say that they'll limit themselves to 4 teams. They actually even went as far as to say "31 teams", since they believe no contact from Marty Hurney rules Carolina out as one of the options.
Carolina has between now and 2/25/2010 to franchise tag Peppers, and then attempt to deal him away or sign him to a new deal. Carolina's silence is odd, but most likely a sign from above Hurney. There's no doubt that Jerry Richardson has conflicting thoughts about his franchise player, especially in reaction to the Collective Bargaining talks. Trading or leaving Peppers behind is a stronger fiscal move, and Richardson might take that tack to help labor unrest. Similarly, it's hard to strive for fiscal responsibility and better labor relations if you're paying 15% of your cap for one player.
Still, the want for immortality in a franchise must bear weight on an aging owner, and that first Hall of Fame for a player in only your franchise's uniform must weigh on his mind, too. Peppers does appear to be headed toward that honor one day, and if he were able to keep his 10-sack a year pace up along with 2 or 3 incredible plays on voters' minds, he'd make the Hall. Jacksonville doesn't have anyone on that level on the horizon, New Orleans only now put a player in, Rickey Jackson.
Carolina has flirted with a few - Reggie White obviously played here a year, and Sam Mills gets a few votes, but Kevin Greene will have a better shot at getting in than Mills. They weren't 'ours', but Peppers would be. And he makes us better.
The key, at this point, is whether he's better at making us better than a first round pick, plus the money to bolster the pockets of Ryan Kalil, Thomas Davis, and Richard Marshall can.