The NFL Network's Adam Schefter this morning tossed a little cold water on Patriots Nation, saying he found it extremely unlikely the Patriots would trade for Panthers defensive lineman Julius Peppers.
"There are a couple of technicalities to point out first and foremost," Schefter said. "The Carolina Panthers right now are not allowed to trade Julius Peppers because he has yet to sign his franchise tender. When Matt Cassel signed his franchise tender, that gave the Patriots the right to trade him anyplace they wanted without his authority ... Julius Peppers has not signed his tender. The only trade rights that can be brokered right now are between his agent and a team. And his agent would not be talking about trade compensation, his agent would be talking about a new contract. So clearly there can't be anything in place to trade him to New England. And even if there were, it is not a trade that I believe the Patriots would make."
"You're talking about an enormous sum of money you're going to have to invest in Julius Peppers for starters," Schefter continued. "You're talking about a deal that basically changes the dynamics of the salary structure within the locker room when you've got pending deals coming up with Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork."
Schefter also said he didn't think Peppers, despite his name recognition and NFL credentials, was a consistent enough performer to be attractive to the Patriots at the price it would take.
"He flashes," Schefter said. "He doesn't always come through when it matters most. That doesn't seem to me to be a Patriots kind of guy."
When asked how sure he was that Peppers would not be with the Patriots next year, he answered "99.9 percent sure".
The Globe's Christopher L. Gasper reported today that the Patriots were on the short list of teams to which Peppers would accept a trade, but there are several obstacles that must be cleared before Peppers leaves Charlotte. The biggest is that the Panthers have placed the franchise tag on their career sacks leader. That required them to offer him a one-year tender for $16.7 million that counts immediately counts against the salary cap, leaving the Panthers no cap space to make any other moves in free agency.
Under the nonexclusive franchise tag rules, Peppers could sign with another team only if that club gave up two first-round draft picks in return. There is precedent for teams letting a franchise player go for less compensation -- Kansas City traded defensive end Jared Allen to Minnesota last year for a first-round pick and two third-round choices -- but any kind of deal now is tricky because Peppers hasn't signed his tender with Carolina.
Until he does, the Panthers are barred from any trade talks involving Peppers, which is the predicament to which Schefter was referring this morning. Peppers's agent can negotiate with other teams, then can come to the Panthers with a deal for them to accept or reject
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement Monday they've not been presented with any trade proposals.
Later in the WEEI interview, Schefter said he thought there was a 50-50 chance of free-agent linebacker Jason Taylor signing with New England.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.