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Recent posts by Eric Edholm
Julius Peppers let us know -- in classic Peppers fashion -- through his agent, Carl Carey, that he has signed the team's $16.7 million tender and is open to the idea of extending his career in Carolina.
This after a statement of dissatisfaction following a strange month in the Panthers organization where defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac walked away from his post and took a lesser job with the Packers to be their DL coach, with several other assistants following Trgovac out of town to other destinations. You would have thought the Panthers struggled this season, but lo they were 12-4 before getting dusted by the Cardinals in the playoffs at Bank of America Stadium.
Peppers is hard to read -- by his teammates, by the fans and, I suspect, by the Panthers' decision makers. He's a quiet, introverted man who eschews the spotlight yet who also pined to play elsewhere, perhaps in a bigger market. I spoke with a media member the other day who covered Peppers for a spell, and we both wondered why Peppers, being such a personal guy who likes to live outside the spotlight, would want to play for the Cowboys or Patriots, where coverage is non-stop year-round.
Now it appears he's back in the fold in Carolina, and after a terrific 2008 season and with an extension perhaps on the frontburner, Peppers (you'd think) would be in line for another big season.
But will he remain happy? It's so hard to tell. I have spent minimal time around him, but I have talked to his teammates and other people close to him, and even they have trouble figuring out what he might or might not feel down the road.
I suspect Peppers will become the highest-paid player in Panthers' history, surpassing Steve Smith's deal that runs through 2012 and averages somewhere between $10 million and $11 million annually. (And don't be surprised if the team tries to extend Smith past that after it gets things done with Peppers.)
I just don't know if we will see the '07 Peppers that was seldom heard from on the field or the '08 model that was a force to be reckoned with and, I thought, much better against the run that he had been in prior years. The new defensive scheme could be the change of pace Peppers was looking for, although I suspect it won't be vastly different from what they have run for some time now.
Because we don't really know Julius that well, it's hard to know what he'll be today or tomorrow, much less next season. Maybe he realized that cozy Charlotte, where he can defer to Smith and others, isn't so bad a place after all.