In some ways, the situation reminds me of how math can look simple yet get much more complicated quickly by adding variables: A (The Cards need a pass rusher) + B (Pro Bowl pass rusher Julius Peppers will likely be an unrestricted free agent) = C (The Cards try to sign Peppers) … right?
Not so much. Not when A comes with the caveat that the new guy needs to be able to play OLB in a 3-4, something Peppers hasn’t done. Not when B comes with the caveat Peppers will be a free agent in part because he wants a boatload of money. Not when C could be impacted by the uncapped year and the “rule of eight” to which the Cards must adhere.
The biggest obstacle I see for Peppers is the idea he could suddenly become an effective linebacker after playing his whole career — college and pro — with his hand down. There are few defensive linemen as athletic as the 6-foot-7, 285-pounder, and he made it clear last year he thought he could make such a transition. But Peppers is also 30, and while he isn’t exactly an old dog, it is a new trick. There is a reason there is a learning curve for young DEs coming into the league trying to move to LB (Will Davis, Cody Brown, for instance) and doing it with a high-priced free agent may not ay off in the risk-reward department. (Sure, I remember Peppers jumping up on the block to grab Kurt Warner’s pass and scoring a touchdown — as seen below — but that was still as a defensive end, as athletic a play as it was).
That’s the other part of this. Peppers made $17 million this past season and, after reaching the Pro Bowl again, is going to be looking for a mega-bucks contract now that he wants out of Carolina. He had 10.5 sacks this year — or about the same amount Calais Campbell would have had if Campbell could have held on to David Garrard and Vince Young when he should have. Peppers is good, but guaranteeing $25 million-over-three-years-good? (And yes, I am just throwing numbers out there).
I just don’t see it. And Peppers may not see that money anywhere. Barring a miracle there will be an uncapped year and while that does mean teams don’t necessarily have to worry about spending, the fact there could be a work stoppage in 2011 means teams will worry about spending. I just don’t see free-flowing free-agent riches anywhere, and that includes the Cards. Besides, if you are going to shell out that kind of money, I’d think you’re more likely to reward your own guys (see Dockett, Darnell) than go outside the facility.
The Cards need pass rushers and they could chase a free agent. More likely, the draft is where the Cards will look to fortify that spot. At least in Arizona, the possibility of picking Peppers is probably poor.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Cody Brown, Julius Peppers, Will Davis
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