Even though Thursday is the final day for teams to slap a franchise tag on players, Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers said he is uncertain whether he will be designated the Panthers’ franchise player.
“I really don’t know,” Peppers said Saturday in a 20-minute conference call with select reporters. “I’m not expecting it and I am expecting it. There are so many dynamics to the situation that it’s possible for them to go either way on it.”
It is a convoluted situation, in so many ways, and Carolina must solve it as best as it can. Peppers wants out, and Carolina cannot afford to have him leave. The widely held assumption is that Carolina has to tag Peppers. Problem is, Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross also is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and Carolina has only one tag.
Asked what he would do, Peppers said: “If it was my decision, this is what I would do. Jordan Gross has come out and say he wants an extension. We got (another player) who says he wants to move on and try something different. If I was in that situation, I would try to accommodate the guy who wants to be there.”
As the Panthers prepare their plan, Peppers already has his — at least in the short term.
“If they decided to use the tag on me, the first thing that I will be doing is requesting a trade,” Peppers said. “(Beyond that) I don’t know what would be the course of action. We’ll deal with that when that time comes.”
Peppers knows his time has come in a different way. His contract is up. He is on the brink of becoming a free agent. And he wants out of Carolina.
“If you were being held back at your job, and you fulfilled your contract, if you did everything you were supposed to do and worked seven years at that contract and it was time for that contract to expire, and you were told you did all of that, basically, you’ve still got a say,” Peppers said. “I don’t think people would be willing to live under the same standards that they’re placing on me. Put yourself in my shoes and look at the situation instead of being emotional about it.
“Seven years is a long time and since I’ve been here, I’ve given everything I had. There’s never been a time that I wasn’t giving my all. It’s a situation where I feel I’m at the point in my career where I want to do different things. It has nothing to do with anything that happened with me and coaches or me and the owner. There’s nothing that happened. I just feel like personally, for me and my career, it’s time for a change.”