January 25, 2009

Peppers in Green Bay makes too much sense

Category: Packers — Patrick Stumpf @ 1:56 pm

After the Packers inked 3-4 patron Dom Capers as their next defensive coordinator, it was only a matter of time before Green and Gold fans could expect to hear rumors circulating about Julius Peppers landing in Green Bay. Why? Because according to what Peppers’ agent Carl Carey told NFL.com, his client not only wants out of Carolina next year, but he may want out of the 4-3 scheme entirely.

“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.”

And if that news wasn’t enough fodder for Wisconsin Sports radio hosts, Mike McCarthy sweetened the scenario even more by bringing long-time Carolina defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac in as his new defensive line coach…seems like a match made in heaven, right? Well, not so fast, there are several questions that remain unanswered:

1) It’s anyones guess what kind of rapport Peppers had with Trgovac until Peppers comes out publicly.  Clearly Peppers wasn’t happy with how he was being used in Carolina, and if their relationship has indeed been soured, Trgovac’s presence in Green Bay could be a turn-off.

2) Ted Thompson doesn’t get the name “tight-wad Ted” for nothing.  It’s obvious that he’s not willing to tie up a boatload of money in one player.  And if Peppers were to enter the free-agent fray, he’ll demand BIG bucks. This will more than likely be his last time for a payday, so chances are he’ll hold out for a ridiculous contract Thompson won’t be willing to dish out.

3) Carolina holds all the cards.  They’ll have the option to slap a $17 million franchise tag on Peppers, obviously something he’s praying won’t happen.  Taking into account that possibility, the only way the Pack could pry him away would be via-trade, which for the draft-pick lover Thompson would be an equally steep price to pay.

4) Even if Ted Thompson were to open his wallet (as unlikely as that is) and sign Peppers, there are mixed opinions as to what Peppers’ ideal position in a 3-4 would be.  At 6-7, weighing 283 pounds, Peppers would redefine the outside linebacking position, a spot he’d likely occupy in the Packers’ system.  Yes, his pass-rushing skills are unquestioned, but how would he fair in coverage?

5) While Peppers would no doubt be an upgrade in whatever capacity, many argue there will be other options available come February and March that would fit the Packers’ system better.  Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, the prototypical 3-4 linebacker, leads the pack of those with less question marks.  Not only is he proven in the system, but he probably won’t garner as much cash should he elude Baltimore’s franchise tag.  Another plus? Suggs is 26, Peppers is 29.

Bottom line: If Ted’s hard-pressed enough this year to open his wallet, and (hypothetically speaking) both Peppers and Suggs hit the open market, the decision should be relatively easy: throw every last egg into Suggs’ basket, not Peppers’.

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