The deadline for franchise players is 4 p.m. today, and we’ll do a compendium of the guys tagged later on. But probably the biggest name to get tagged so far is Panthers DE Julius Peppers, so we wanted to go ahead and talk about him. You can read on for more on Peppers and see how highly he compares with the other franchise players this year in the mega-franchise players post that we’re updating with all of the franchise players.
DE Julius Peppers, Panthers – The next evolution of man, as Peppers was called by teammates, is an athletic freak. He’s 6-7, a lean 290 pounds, and as quick as most wide receivers. He wants out of Carolina, which runs a 4-3 defense, so that he can play in a 3-4 system as an outside rush linebacker. Peppers could be absolutely devastating in that role because of his athleticism, even though he’s almost too big to stand up and rush. The question is whether he could learn a new system quickly. His instincts aren’t always top-notch. Peppers wants out of Carolina, but the Panthers committed $16.683 million of cap room to him. (Insted of getting the $9 million tag that most defensive ends would, Peppers is guaranteed 20 percent more than his massive 2008 salary-cap figure.) Peppers has been a very good, productive player in Carolina, but for some reason he has stayed half a rung below elite level. Still, Peppers should fetch a trade bounty at least equal to what Jared Allen elicited last year (a first-rounder and two third-rounders). He is the biggest free agent tagged on the market this year, and his impending trade will be one of the biggest moves of the offseason whenever it happens.