Chicago Sun-Times

Peppers looking to bolt Carolina; beware buying a pass rusher

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The only way Julius Peppers is guaranteed to return to the Carolina Panthers is if they slap the franchise tag on him, a costly proposition that will run general manager Marty Hurney $17 million for 2009.

$17 million for one season.

Peppers wants no part of it. The defensive end announced through his agent Friday night that he has no desire to return to the Panthers.

"Julius is firm in his decision that he needs a change," agent Carl Carey told ESPN.com. "He feels that he can thrive in another system. While he has been selected to four Pro Bowls and designated as an All-Pro during his career, he feels that he has yet to develop to his full potential. This is the case of a great player who seeks to become an elite one."

What we have here is another player with his eyes set on the prize--the $72 million, seven-year contract extension Dwight Freeney landed from the Indianapolis Colts. That contract included $30 million guaranteed. That is the figure defensive tackle Tommie Harris set out to get when he launched into contract negotiations. Harris wound up receiving $10 million guaranteed.

Peppers, who looked headed nowhere in 2007, might be aiming a little high. Nonetheless, he'll be one of the top players on the open market. He had a career-high 14 1/2 sacks this past season, the fifth time in seven years he had at least 10 1/2 sacks. General manager Jerry Angelo would be entering a new frontier in pursuing a player with a deal even close to the Freeney contract. Lance Briggs received $13 million guaranteed in his $36 million, six-year contract. Devin Hester was guaranteed $15 in his $40 million, four-year extension. The Bears are expected to have around $26 million in salary-cap space, more than enough room to take on Peppers and whatever other needs the team has.

Yes, the Bears might have the coach in Rod Marinelli that Peppers is seeking to become "elite'' and Angelo and coach Lovie Smith are known to covet pass rushers. Peppers turns 29 on Sunday. You have to consider how many seasons of top play you'll be able to get out of him before deciding if he's worth pursuing.

Sometimes you don't get bang for your buck when shopping for a pass rusher. The Bears acquired Adewale Ogunleye when he was 27 and was coming off a 15-sack season with the Miami Dolphins. Ogunleye received a $34.6 million, six-year deal. He's given the Bears 35 1/2 sacks in five seasons and is entering the final year of his contract. It hasn't been a bad contract for Angelo, but Ogunleye hasn't been a premier pass rusher either.

Before the Bears got involved with Ogunleye, they made a play for Jevon Kearse in free agency in 2004. He was leaving Tennessee at the age of 27 after having 45 1/2 sacks in four full seasons with the Titans (Kearse was limited to four games in 2002). Philadelphia secured his services with a $66 million, eight-year contract. The Eagles reached the Super Bowl in his first season there. After four years and just 22 sacks, they cut him loose and he returned to Tennessee in 2008.

Then again, there's Joey Porter. He left Pittsburgh after 2006 and eight seasons of being one of the Steelers' most consistent performers. Porter has 23 sacks the last two years in Miami.

It just goes to show you never know what you're going to get in free agency.

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26 Comments

One player at that price and age is another Wale waiting to happen we need to look at offensive linemen first and a run-stuffing 320lb tackle to push the pocket and let the speed guys do what they do.

Ogunleye is in his contract year, I will bet dollars to donuts he is significantly better in 2009 than this year, he will improve his sack totals. It might be right for the Bears to keep Ogunleye and find talent in other areas or if not trade him to a team like the AZ Cardinals for the likes of a Boldin plus they would have to give up additional draft picks etc. Maybe they could go for the daily double of Peppers and Boldin.

We can dream but reality is a bitch. Nope, we are talking the Bears, McCaskey's, Angelo and Lovie. If the Bears had a better push up the middle by the DT's the ends would really light it up with more sacks.

The best way to a great D is by having a great D line pass rush at least the Bears have Marinelli, he will improve the line play and get the most out of the talent the Bears have at each of the positions on the line.

What about when the Green Bay Packers signed 9 year vet Reggie White, I think we all know how that turned out. I say go for it, pay Peppers, while Peppers is no Reggie White, he is close, and has been a pretty consistent pass rusher throughout his career, 5 times Peppers has had at least 10 sacks. Although his 2007 season does make a buyer beware, 14 starts and only 2.5 sacks. The 2007 season might make it difficult for Peppers to receive the same deal Dwight Freeney got, none the less, the league puts a premium on pass rushers. And sadly, I don't see the Bears getting in a bidding war over Peppers services, I hope Im wrong.

Who knows, maybe Peppers wants to play for Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli, some fans might laugh, but it could be true. Also, lining up next to Tommie Harris might not sound to bad to Peppers either, opposing offenses would be like, who do we double team??

Another plus to signing Pepper, it would free up the Bears on draft day. Chicago would be able to go for an offensive tackle or a safety in the first, heck, maybe a receiver! Bottom line with Peppers is this, pass rushing is like speed, you can't coach it, either a guy can get to the QB or not, and Peppers can get to the QB, so I say sign him GO BEARS!!

At least give the fellar an interview and if he seems reasonable and worthy of the price that is not outlandish, then I say give the guy a deal. But if he is demanding an extremely high and obsurd price then leave the dude be. Go Bears.

I wonder what the odds of us signing L.T. from SD would be, since he is no longer wanted their would be? Just a bloddy thought.

I know I keep saying this time and time again, but if the Bears can only make one move in free agency to bolster the pass rush than it needs to be Albert Haynesworth not Peppers. Think about it, would Alex, Adewale and Tommie increase their sack totals next to big Albert? AND we get the luxory of the best run stopper in the league on top of it. This is what really needs to happen, and remeber guys if you CAN'T STOP THE RUN WITH THE FRONT FOUR, the pass rush doesn't matter anyway, that is what a lot of you are forgetting. Don't get caught up in sacks when teams can run it down little Tommie's 295 pound frame. GO BEARS!!

If the Bears get Peppers it will be as a desperation move by Lovie. The defense of the Bears is aging, holdovers from Hatley Urlacher and Brown are not what they once were. The Bears have not drafted a a Pro Bowl position player in 5 years. DE, WR, QB, OT(Until proved otherwise), FS, and even the SAM position is proving a bit of a mystery as Williams and Roach have not really been standout's.

I would like to see Peppers on the Bears but at the same time I cn not imagine them paying that much money for a team that has the second highest paid defense in football that is this bad and getting older. Why throw good money after bad money. Great player that Peppers is he is also not going to help the defense get younger, if Harris doesn't turn it around it won't even matter. Lots of teams have great pass rushers on bad defenses.

The Bears were 22nd in sacks last year. The Texans who have Williams were 27th, the Packers were 25th with Kampman, the Colts were 16th with Freeney. Then there are teams with a great Pass Rush that have bad defenses, the Lions had a decent Pass Rush buit the worst defense in the NFL(Tampa 2 by the way), The Raider had a decent Pass rush and horrible defense, the Falcons and the Seahwks. So great Pass rush does not always mean great defense. Just ask the Redskins who had one of the best defenses and one of the worst Pass Rushes, worse than the Bears by a bit.

Which reminds me I know a lot of people are impressed with the Bears offensive line. Well take a look at how many games they played against bad defenses and the offense which ranked 26th impressed so many. They played 10 games against defenses ranked 17 or below including 3 against the bottom 5 and 5 against the bottom 3rd. Managed to get all the way to 26th against those defenses. Minor miricle if you ask me.

Kevin we all love to spend there money don't we. It would be nice but I don't think it will happen. We do need Peppers though and while there at it tell Angelo I want an Audi R8 in black for my suffering of him.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...you guys must not be catching on to the way our coaching staff operates. Lovie brought in Archuleta, Marinelli had Millen trade for literally 1/15th of Tampa's roster last year....with that in mind, it's prediction time:

The Bears will bring in FA Simeon Rice.

Is he over the hill? Yup. Can he still play? I dunno. He was a FA so nobody seems to have wanted him (although that might be due to his inability to settle for a fair contract.)

To borrow a trademark of Creighton's, we are the Tampa Bay Bears.

And Rice will make us even more Tampa Bay-ier.

Mike I am waiting for the day when I can call them the Blitzburg Bears.

You forgot the part that he wants to play in a 3-4. That is kind of important!!!!!!!

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-panthers-peppers&prov=ap&type=lgns

See this article to dash all your dreams

Peppers clearly states that he wants to play in a 3-4 defensive scheme. I get the feeling he wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, we can all be positive on the Bears but if we think like a top DE for just a minute, why would we come to the Bears who have no shot at the Super Bowl? (In the opinion of a Top DE).
Now as a Bears fan even I feel we can get back to the big game with a couple great Free Agents like Peppers but I don't feel that those great Free Agents have the same feelings as I do about the Chicago Bears.

Carey, who first told ESPN.com of Peppers’ decision early Saturday, said Peppers wants to play in a 3-4 defense. The Panthers use a 4-3 alignment.

“He certainly feels that he can excel and thrive in a 3-4 defense,” Carey said. “He is also open to just another system in general that will allow him to maximize his athletic abilities.”

Peppers’ decision leaves the Panthers with a big decision to make.

The team could place the franchise tag on Peppers, which would virtually force him to stay with the Panthers. Under that scenario, another team could sign Peppers only by giving Carolina two first-round draft picks in return.

I agree with everything your saying Kevin, and maybe... who knows for sure? I would sure want it to happen but it's hard getting past that 3-4 comment.

As much as it would be nice to pick up Peppers, I dont think this team is ready to get into a bidding war as Peppers should command. I think we should address the DE in the first round of the draft and use the money for Peppers and get ROT Carey, and FS Otogwe.Also get Simms/QB, and Henderson/WR.
Carey is young, large and has lots of pro experience starting 79 games for Miami. He's not a top tackle but above average.
Otogwe is an upgrade over our FSs and will come with not big money.
Simms is a vet. with an upside if he can stay healthy.
Henderson is a speed receiver that is an impovement over what we have.

In the draft we can address DE, WR, and another Big RB to help Forte.

Yes, I was thinking the tag and trade scenario as well, I can't see any team (except the Cowboys) :) and they are still waiting on Williams to man up,
giving 2 firsts for Peppers, maybe I am wrong on that, but even so, I don't feel the Bears have that much trade bait, or trade guts either.
It would not be smart for the Panthers to do anything else except tag him or trade him.
It's his agents job to drive up the price and sounds like that is what's going on.
Whoever lands him will have instant QB pressure, not a small thing.
Stinger56 - sounds pretty good
I really believe that JA will go Free Agent this year, just what position?

Warren Sapp is currently on the NFL Network - as most of you probably already know - discussing the playoffs today till 3:00

Guy's, I basically said in my above blog "I didn't think we were gonna get Peppers, I just think we need him, and would like to see Chicago sign him." Also, Brad's comments made a lot of sense. I actually think Peppers agents said the "3-4 thing" to open Peppers up to every team, 4-3 or 3-4. If Peppers agent would not have said that, some 3-4 teams might not go for Peppers because he has enjoyed so much success in a 4-3, they would have thought Peppers only wants to play in a 4-3, now with the comment by the agent, Peppers is open to every team, 3-4 or 4-3. Good move on the agents part if you think about it, now Peppers has an even better chance of getting a big contract, now that he is open to both 3-4 and 4-3 teams.

Creighton, I agree, it takes more than a great pass rusher to make a defense, but you still need one. Teams like the Texans, Colts, and the Packers, don't have a Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher on their team, the only team close is the Texans with DeMeco Ryans. Also, none of these teams have anything close to a Tommie Harris at defensive tackle. I just think with the Bears overall defense, which has more overall talent at both linebacker and defensive tackle than the Colts, Packers, and the Texans, would get significantly better with a pass rusher like Peppers up front for Chicago.

Also Creighton, I don't think the Bears offensive line is great, but they don't suck either. Chicago had a swing tackle at the ever important left tackle spot, and still only allowed 27 sacks, 9 of which were allowed by St.Clair. I think with an athletic tackle, like Chris Williams, on the left side, and this sack total goes down even more. And another thing you have to take into consideration is this, other than Greg Olsen, a tight end, and Devin Hester, who only has two years of experience at the wide receiver position to begin with, who did Chicago really have to take the 8th man out of the box. So the fact that the Bears offensive line was facing a lot of 8 man boxes, only made it harder to run block. So the fact that they were able to block for a 1200 yd back, becomes even more impressive if you think about it. I think with Chris Williams at left tackle this upcoming season, Dan Buenning getting a chance to come inside for the Bears at guard, and this line is only gonna get better. Im thinking, with Buenning listed as the second team right guard, he will get a chance to compete for a starting spot. Also, if Chicago resigns St.Clair, they will probably keep him at tackle, and maybe let him compete with Tait for a starting job. Between both Tait and St.Clair, Chicago will have someone to hold the position down while a rookie develops, Chicago still needs to bring in a younger right tackle, preferably one that is a good run blocker. Maybe in the 3rd or 4th round the Bears can bring in a run blocker like Oregons Fenuki Tupou, or another one I like is, Kent States Augustus Parrish, who looked good run blocking yesterday in the East-West Shrine game. GO BEARS!!

Wait just a damn second; all of you guys telling me how "stupid" I am for not beliving Rod Marinelli can turn water into wine and now you guys all want Julius Peppers? If Hot Rod is so spectacular wouldn't Tommie Harris revert to form and thus make everyone - including former double-digit sack leader Mark Anderson - get better?

If we are to belive Hot ROd is the savior wouldn't free agency better be suited by bolstering either the offensive line (Jordan Gross or even Jahri Evans), wideout with Housh or Boldin or safety with Daron Landry? I know everyone wants Hayneworth but the guy is going to get ridiculous dollars and he's still a head case (or do we not remember him cleating a guy in the head?)

The QB situation is not going to be resolved in free agency unless of course you're willing to allow a stop-gap to come in thus destroying any chance of allowing Orton to develop with another year and setting back Caleb Hanie as well.

If Chicago truly believes in Marinelli and his defensive line wizardry then why not address other areas? Go out and get Gross to play tackle. The draft has some very good safeties and wide outs who could come in and start. Also, you can find later round offensive lineman.

I'd like to see Chicago go after Gross. If we secure him, then you have your pick in the first round to fill the free safety position (Missouri's William Moore is the best on the board even if Taylor Mays hadn't returned to USC) or wide receiver (Rutger's Kenny Britt, Mizzou's Jeremy Maclin and of course Texas Tech's Micahel Crabtree but he'll be long gone). The three receivers are solid, physical receivers who are NFL-ready and provide a nice compliment to the deep threat of Devin Hester. If Moore is on the board, get him. If not there are three receivers who can get the job done and there is always the 2nd round (or possibly 3rd depending on how things fall) to pickup Missippi State product Derek Pegues.

Finally, if I can make my TRADE FOR THIS GUY plea, it would be to pickup 2nd-year free safety Josh Barrett from Denver. The Broncos used a 7th-round pick on Barrett last season (and yes I was screaming at the Bears to pick him up the entire time); Barrett made the lineup due to injury this season to Marlon McCree and made the most of his opportunity ... of course, with McCree in his 11th year, I would be shocked to see him start another game with Barrett's emergence. Sorry just could not believe Chicago passes on this guy who was referred to by scouts and coaches as "the prototypical cover-2 safety".

Hey, can someone tell me where I can find the tentative draft order as it stands now? I know Chicago has the 18th pick but I want to look at all their picks sans any compensatory picks when those are announced.

Creighton\Kevin,

I think in all of the finger-pointing at Halas Hall the two guys who came out OK were Harry Hiestand and Ron Turner. Despite a 26th-ranked offense (in yards) Chicago was 16th in scoring with little to no weapons. The offensive line was a patch-work yet they managed to keep Orton (mostly) alive and played well above their heads.

The o-line is in DIRE need of improvement as is the receiving corp. Bring in two guys - a solid tackle and a solid WR - and this offense could be well above average.

Why don't we just bring in more people from Tampa for Lovie's Tampex 2.

I agree Coach, Hienstand did a good job but they did not face much in the way of Elite defenses. I think the Eagles, Tampa, and the Vikings are it and a lot of bottom feeders after that, Carolina was average and can't defend the pass. All three of them put up good sack numbers though, if the eagles had not been missing 4 key starters on offense we may have lost that game. I don't expect pressure from teams like detroit or Green Bay, which is strange cause Green Bay put the heat on the Bears. The offense need 3 Linemen over the next two years if Williams works out and Buenning works out. Center, RG, RT, they can get two of those this year easily, for some odd reason I get the feeling Angelo sees Beekman as a backup or the future center but not the LG.

My thing is I know Angelo won't go after a reciever in round 1 and I think the only Dline players that will be available by the time they pick will be third round talent, Moore the Saftie is sure to be gone as well. The only thing I can see them doing is going Oline again, while Maclin sits there. WR is to risky a pick for a guy who like Angelo who knows he has to hit this year. LB could also happen or Corner.

Coach as for weapons you have to remember scoring includes defensive and special team scoring. Plus take into mind the short field our offense works with thanks to our special teams. When we had a long field we didn't do that well. Plus we did not do well in short yardage. Fullback dive???? Also when the offense isn;t scripted there is a big drop off in production. First 15 plays and hurry up are all scripted. Thats why we don;t run a lot of hurry up cause once we do it, your gonna see the same exact plays again. Big advantage for the defense in that case.

Pursuing a dominant pass- rusher such as Peppers makes more sense for the Bears than going after a veteran quarterback that may be less attainable or necessary. Angelo took strides last week to correct the perception that quarterback was his No. 1 off-season priority—only for the offense, he pointed out. Nothing would prove that more than keeping Peppers' agent on speed dial. Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh

Amen on all aspects and points!!!!

Coach after a little checking the Bears offense scored 323 point's on offense with a short field. I took out special teams and defensive TD's not cause they didn't score but because defense and special teams deserve credit for when they score. Why should Turner get credit for something Toub did. The 323 points is good for 22nd in the league in points and this is after I took out every one elses defensive or special team points.

You would have to figure after watching the the two games this this past Sunday, and how affective the pass rushers where on all four teams, the Bears will have to make make some improvements in the off season on defense, so acquiring someone like Peppers makes perfect sense, believe me they'll need that caliber of player to keep up with teams like Baltimore, Minnesota, Arizona, and Pittsburgh. I'd say sign him when he becomes available. I mean give him a check.

Da Church of Da Coach wrote:
"The o-line is in DIRE need of improvement as is the receiving corp. Bring in two guys - a solid tackle and a solid WR - and this offense could be well above average."

I know you were addressing the other Kevin but I have to concur: OL and WR. As for people wanting Boldin this article should give pause is the coming of TO v2?

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Anquan-Boldin-even-less-valuable-than-previously?urn=nfl,135311

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 17, 2009 10:43 AM.

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