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Peppers to Pats? Whispers persist ...

Posted by Albert Breer  February 17, 2010 11:28 AM

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Yup, we've got more Julius Peppers talk for you ... The well-respected Vic Carucci of NFL.com is reporting that the Patriots remain interested in the Carolina star.

Carucci reported last offseason that New England was taking a look at trading for Peppers, and has this today on the Web site:

We reported in this space a year ago that it was likely the Panthers would trade Peppers to the New England Patriots after he signed his one-year, franchise-tag contract. The deal never happened, but sources say the Pats, whose inability to consistently pressure the quarterback was their biggest drawback last season, remain very interested in acquiring Peppers. They're encouraged that they could gain some leverage if the field for bidders is reduced by possible restrictions on the final eight playoff teams to sign free agents.

However, New England faces a challenge in putting together a strong enough contract to land Peppers while also being able to re-sign nose tackle Vince Wilfork and signing quarterback Tom Brady to a long-term contract in the near future. The Patriots could place a franchise tag on Wilfork for $7 million, although he would clearly be unhappy by such a move.

One important point of reference here on Peppers -- The Patriots were sniffing around on Randy Moss for some time before pulling the trigger on the second day of the NFL draft in 2007. That adds intrigue here. I'd heard last year that New England was interested in Peppers, as Carucci reported, but the Panthers were going to make any team trying to pry the then-franchised star away pay a princely sum in draft picks to get him.

Another thing that I was consistently hearing: Fit is important for Peppers, who's an eccentric sort. That's not to say he's going somewhere at a cut-rate price because it feels right (he's gonna get his money), but it is to say that identifying "the best place" for Peppers isn't necessarily going to be a purely financial thing.

Again, the presence of Brady and Wilfork, and their simmering contract situations, stand to gum up the works. But it's hard to say, if the numbers are right, it's out of the question.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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