Julius Peppers announced today on ESPN that he is ready for greener pastures. The idea of a long-term contract is no longer an option according to Pep's agent. The Panthers can either let him slip away contentedly or slap the franchise tag on him. Those are the facts as we know them.
Of course, this opens up a Pandora's box of second-guessing, what-the-hells, and blame sharing. On the Charlotte Observer, there an equal mix of good riddance and angst. No matter how you paint it, this is a story that has a lot of opinions. This is a bit different than when Jenkins left; this is a guy we established as the face of our defense, the guy Jerry Richardson called out to lead this team from the comfort of his barbeque.
Personally, I don't want to see him go. He's been a good egg to have on the team in spite of accusations of taking plays (or games) off. He's kept a low profile, hasn't shot anyone and sold a lot of jerseys. However, the beat goes on. One man does not make a team unless your name is Peyton.
Peppers has more natural gifts that one man should have. He's a freak of nature and I would rather have him on my side than not. The problem with highly talented people is that they can either take their talent for granted or they simply get bored. I believe that Peppers falls equally into both categories.
The Panthers have a conservative system that starts from the ownership down. As much as some would want to burn Coach Fox in effigy, bringing in Bill Cowhers or any other coach isn't going to change that culture. Julius Peppers is bored blaying the 4-3. He says he's ready to play in a system that will utilize his full potential.
The Panthers have been as creative with him as any other team out there. A 3-4 system may be a better fit, but this to me is a clear case of the grass is greener. There aren't a lot of teams out there who have had the success the Panthers have had. There are a lot of teams that will throw a ton of money at him and 29 years old makes for a good payday.
I am thinking of a certain wide receiver who had a ton of talent and thought the grass was greener somewhere else. Moose took the big payday, went to a supposed contender with a better system and flamed out. He realized differently and came home soon enough. I'm not predicting the same scenario playing out for Julius, however I am saying that no matter where he goes he's sure to see some warts.