A pass on picking Peppers

Posted by Darren Urban on February 9, 2010 – 1:59 pm

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.

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36 Responses to “A pass on picking Peppers”

  1. By DHALL on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Good job on the post, I now understand why that is an unlikely option for the cards. So, a pick up of Joey Porter might sound more realistic?

  2. By darrenurban on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    DHALL —

    Assuming Porter is released, possibly. Even then, we’d have to see what Porter wants.

  3. By Kevin on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t really remember, because he got hurt so early, but how good is C.Brown? Maybe we don’t have to over spend on an aging vet. Is it possible that between W. Davis and Brown that we will all ready have an upgrade? We can still draft an OLB/DE. Are there any MLB in FA that could fill the hole that Dansby will leave?

  4. By darrenurban on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Kevin —

    In a perfect world, Cody Brown or Will Davis will provide that, but it’ll be impossible to know before the season. So they signed Stevie Baggs and hope for practice squader Mark Washington to make an impact. I haven’t seen the FA lists yet but I would guess they will look carefully at all FA LBs given how thin they are at the position. The draft is a probable source as well. I think they need enough bodies that they will draw from every area.

  5. By Jesse Robles on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I WANT DICK LeBEAU AS OUR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR!!!!!!!! Our D needs work, they can’t play so soft all the time. Defense Wins Championships!!! Looking forward to the Draft

  6. By Bobf on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    What do the Cards pick in the first round? (Your opinion of course.) I think pass rusher or O line.

  7. By darrenurban on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Bobf —

    It’s awful early but I think it will end up being a defensive player.

  8. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    The NFL Combine cant start fast enough for me.

    Hopefully all the Super Bowl hype will have died out with the media by next week and we can read about something other than the Saints and Colts.

  9. By Mark on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Agreed on Peppers and apply it to Porter unless is willing to be a situational player and get paid like one. (unlikely) Also, unlikely teams will have big signings this year since the NFL is trying to show the PA that they are not awash with money. Hard to argue when Haynsworth momey is being offered to players. If Cards sign a top tier FA I would look at NT. There should several Top tier NT hit FA. Even still I wouldn’t break the bank for one.

  10. By Eazy E on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Once again, it is indicative that the cards get an elite olb for our 3-4(Julius Peppers, Joey Porter, Etc.). No matter what it takes. I like Haggans, Will Davis showed something, Cody Brown undetermined, Chike most likely won’t be back, B-Train retired, We have to get pass rushers, but getting an elite one is first and foremost. Peppers is a freakin beast. He’s super athletic, super fast, great pass rusher obviously, great dropping back in coverage, great against the run. He’s gonna want alot of money but he’s worth every freakin penny. No offense to Dansby because he’s a very good football player, but i wouldn’t mind losing him for peppers because of the ”final 8” rule. Another thing, Dockett is gonna get paid, sooner or later, and he even said that if you get more dominant players around him, he’d be even better than he already is. Offensive coordinators would have to game plan for 2 all-pro pass rushers on our front 7. It will be like pick your poison, dockett doubled, peppers one on one, peppers doubled, dockett one on one, win win for the cards heh? He would also play olb over calais’s side, 6’7 283(Peppers) and 6’8 290(Campbell) pass rushing whoa and batting balls down would be no problem. Trade for him or whatever, but get the elite pass rusher. Porter is a nice 2nd option also.

  11. By Jesus on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    hey Jesse you must have been a patriots fan a couple years ago, and maybe saints fan next year.

    if you look at our d a couple of goal line stands 2 yrs running.

    we played the saints with 3 backups one that wasn’t on our team 2 weeks prior.

  12. By Jesse Robles on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    I am actually born and raised in Mesa AZ, Native to the fullest. I actually don’t mind the saints becaus I was stationed in the military down there so they kind of grew on me down there, they are just like the cardinals. I am cardinals to death though, season ticket holder too, but to bring u. 2 goaline stands in 2 years? That is as soft of an argument as our D. And not everyone is on our D, but you see other Defenses HIT, we barely tackle. I want a Ray Lewis, a Suggs, a Ware someone that will Punish and make people scared of our Defense. We brought the Rest of the Steelers over here except their D. I love the cards, that is just our area of concern right now.

  13. By Kent on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Dick Lebeau is a nice thought, but it is never going to happen..

    And if I remember things right (Darren you may know) Ken Whisenhunt’s 1st choice Defensive Head Man in 2007 was Keith Butler the Steelers LB coach and understudy of Lebeau, however we were denied permission to talk to him and ended up sticking with Pendergast…

    Butler is a guy I would love here, but I think the Steelers are intent on retaining his services to replace an aging Lebeau.

    On who to add as a rush backer… at 26 I would love Brandon Graham to fall to us. And I too think 26 will be a defensive player to narrow that down, a Rusher LB or a Corner.

  14. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Kent —

    I’m not sure what went down with the Butler thing. I think it was more complicated that just getting permission.

  15. By Matt on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    I agree the Cardinals need a 3-4 pass rusher so why isn’t anyone talking about us picking up Shawne Merriman from the chargers. Isn’t he a free agent and wouldn’t he be equal value to Karlos Dansby if we loose him to free agency?

  16. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Matt —

    With an uncapped year Merriman will be a restricted FA and the Chargers won’t let him go anywhere.

  17. By Chuck Anderson on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    WE NEED MORE DEPTH IN THE SECONDARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ONE MORE OUTSIDE PASS RUSHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!KEEP THE TEAM INTACT and the defence will be fine!

  18. By Pay Dockett on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    yes! pay dockett! dont sign peppers!!!!!!! dockett and campbell will tear it up! find a solid NT and the D line will be complete!

  19. By Dan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Forget about even thinking about getting Peppers, way too much money. Draft DE’s and LBs in the entire draft…hehe!

  20. By mark on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren, I saw a report on KFFL that the dolphins could possibly offer a third round pick or later for Boldin. Now I still see Boldin as a number one receiver in this league with alot still left in the tank. Do you think the cards would take just a third rounder for him, it seems to me he would be worth alot more, at least a second round pick.

  21. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Mark —

    It’s going to depend on what the Cards feel need to be done. I wouldn’t be stunned if Boldin got traded for a third-rounder, but I don’t think it is likely. At least, I’d hope not.

  22. By nor cal cards fan on Feb 9, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, If we decide to deal Q do you think it will be for strictly draft picks or do you get a feeling it could possibly involve another veteran player? Would a Porter for Q trade make sense with some restructuring? I think Porter would be a great addition to the team. He’s a Pro Bowl pass rusher with 26.5 sacks the last two seasons, which is exactly what we need. Porter already has alot of respect for Coach Whiz and Coach Grimm from their Steeler years together.It seems like it could potentially be a very good fit? I want Q to stay forever as much as anybody, but unfortunately it seems inevitable.

  23. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Nor Cal —

    Trading for Porter makes no sense to me because the Dolphins are likely to cut him anyway, and I don’t want to pay Porter what he is currently making to have him on my team. If he is available as a FA and willing to play for less than he is making now (maybe with incentives if he has a 12-sack season or something), then I go for it.

  24. By Shannon Robinson on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Look at the 71 players currently listed on the Cards roster and it’s evident we’re trying to upgrade at linebacker, defensive end, and defensive tackle. 71 players on the roster now, plus 7 or 8 draft choices, add a veteran quarterback who signs with our one allotted free agent spot and you have the camp roster.We will add 7 rookie free agents to work with the team until our draft choices sign. There’s no cap this year, but my guess is most owners want to spend less. Will B-Rob or Brown or Chike retire or sign elsewhere? Does Gandy sign a one year contract for less money? Now we are in that time of ‘add a player, drop a player’. Mr. Graves has always talked about investing in the Cards’ core players and number one now is Antrel Rolle. Important signings are Cards’ loyalists Ware and Bridges, and then one last try for Dansby and Q and Dockett. Check out the roster and you can see the Cards are preparing to stand pat at fullback, running back, O-Line, tight end, and wide receiver (which means we keep Q another year – hurray!) This is five Card Stud and it’s an in-house game.

  25. By wampag on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Hey D I have a bad feeling Boldin is going to miami it just makes sense for all concerned

    and it sucks

    but thats the nature of the game

    do you see anyone on the Dolphins they could grab or will it just be picks if it happens

    at least Boldin will be happy

  26. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Wampag —

    Slow down there. Boldin may be traded but one vague report that Miami might offer a pick does not make it so.

    I do think the Cards will want a pick or picks for Q, rather than a player.

  27. By cards62 on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Hello Darren

    I think Peppers would be a stud at olb for us, but like you I do not think he is worth wrecking our salary cap so I would rather pay 3 or 4 other guys for his money. I think we all know the NFL will have a salary cap in the future with hopefully a switch between unproven rookies receiving too much of the cap money.

    Darren if a work stoppage no players will be paid correct? So do the owners not want to pay large signing bonuses in 2010 for fear of no income in 2011?
    If this is the case I do not see why they would want to rework deals unless no signing bonuses are involved.

    Darren A rule I never liked in the NFL is that you have guys practicing with the team all week and working hard and every team has to make inactive I believe 5 players for every game. What is the reasoning behind this rule and does this rule save teams any money or do the players earn their same salary?

    Concerning practice squad players. What do they make compared to the league minimum?

    Thank you

  28. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Cards62 —

    Lotsa questions …

    1) In a work stoppage salaries will not be paid. So yes, in theory, I would think owners would rather not pay huge signing bonuses this offseason because they might not get much in return in 2011. They’d probably like to load up on 2011 salary, although I’d guess players and agents will stay away from that.

    2) The big reason behind having 8 inactives every game — as opposed to letting everyone play — is injuries. If team A has four guys injured in a given week and team B has one, then in stands to reason team A only has 49 players available and team B 52, which in theory gives team B an unfair advantage. Those players are all on the active roster though, and receive a normal salary even if they are inactive every week.

    3) A player making minimum NFL salary in 2010 gets a little more than $18,000 per week. A practice squad player gets $5,200 a week.

  29. By adam larson on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    If Q is gone here is a list of a few WR available in FA…Lee Evans of BUFF, Mushin Muhammad of CAR, Miles Austin of DAL, Brandon Marshall of DEN, Chris Chambers of KC, Vincent Jackson of SD.

    FA LB’s…. Jamar Willliams of ASU and da Bears, Odell Thurman of Cincy, Elvis Dumervil of DEN, Aaron Kampman of GB and Gbaja-Biamila of GB, DeMeco Ryans of HOU, Gary Brackett of INDY, Mike Vrabel of KC, Tully Banta-Cain of PATS, Omar Gaither of PHIL, James Harrison of PIT, Shawne Merriman and Derek M Smith of SD, Barrett Ruud of BUCS, and Keith Bulluck and Stephen Tulloch of TEN.

    A few great CB’s are out there too… Ashton Youboty of BUFF, *Terence Newman of DAL, * Antoine Winfield of MIN, Ellis Hobbs of PHIL, * Walt Harris and * Dre’ Bly of 49ers, and * Nick Harper of TEN.

    JUst a few names for all Cards fans to stew over, and mebbe Darren could tell us who the Cards may have a interest in at a FAIR price?

  30. By darrenurban on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    Adam —

    First of all many of those guys are going to be restricted with the uncapped year — Marshall, Austin, Dumervil, Ryans, Merriman, for example. Those guys won’t be going anywhere. Until that gets officially sorted out, it’s hard to tell.

  31. By cards62 on Feb 10, 2010 | Reply

    You the man Darren.

    Do not know if I agree with their thinking on injuries and the 53 man roster, but I do understand the leagues thinking now.

    Thank you,

  32. By adam larson on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    So Jesse, who do u suggest we bring over on D?

    Darren, tons of Mock Drafts have the CARDS selecting a OT in the 1st Round, do u think that”s where the focus should be at? I mean Levi Brown and Mike Gandy are serviceable. I just see a lot of teams getting a LT in the last few drafts, I think maybe it”s the CARDS time to get one too?

  33. By darrenurban on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Adam —

    I think, since the Cards don’t even hold their first draft meeting until next week, that anyone mocking any pick beyond perhaps No. 1 overall is spitballing in the dark.

  34. By adam larson on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Exactly Mr. Urban. I was just thinking since u r around the team maybe u heard something more then these so-called draft experts…

    How much do they really know anyways!

    Just thinking with a road-grater LT and a a big-pulling guard ( o wait we lost that when we let L. Davis walk) then our running game may have BEANIE for over 100 yards every game!

    Trent Williams from OK or Bruce Campbell from Maryland would be great in RED.

    Also, why do ppl think Brandon Graham is gonna be around when the CARDS pick? Graham was 1st in the nation with 26TFL last year! I think maybe Sergio Kindle or Brandon Lang from Troy is more likely?

    BTW, who is gonna be the #1 pick? Suh or a QB?

  35. By darrenurban on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Adam —

    I don’t think it’ll be a QB. Suh seems like the safest pick for the Rams.

  36. By adam larson on Feb 11, 2010 | Reply

    Oh, 1 more thing is John Tait too old? he is a FA.

    Also what about Q for Darren Sharper! LOL WHEN PIGS FLY!

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