Setting the stage?

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With all the hubbub around here yesterday, what figured to be a top storyline this week has been buried. Even after I really, really pushed it early on.

So could the Patriots make a run at the man above after this season? Just listen to what Bill Belichick told the Carolina media yesterday on a conference call.

“He’s a great player, I mean, he’s one of the best player in the league,” Belichick said. “I have no problems saying that. . . . Julius Peppers is outstanding.”

As for any interest the Patriots showed last offseason in trading for the malcontented Panther pass rusher, Belichick deflected the questions, reiterating what he said last offseason, which is that he couldn’t talk trade with Carolina because, at the time, Peppers wasn’t signed.

Just keep an eye on this one. The tariff for the Panthers to tag Peppers again would be more than $20 million. So there’s a good chance he’ll be free. He plays a position of great need to the Patriots. And you can see how Belichick feels about him.

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