As you have probably heard by now, the Patriots are looking to trade their 34th overall pick for Panthers defensive end/ outside linebacker Julius Peppers.
Back in February, PatriotsBlog.net was the first to report rumor of Julius Peppers being acquired by the Patriots. One Mike Vrabel was traded, the trade seemed even more likely.
So what could Peppers offer?
The versatility to play both outside linebacker and defensive end as an edge rusher. Peppers would likely start at outside backer, but on third downs, could put his hand down, as well as in possible 4-3 scenarios.
Of course, the big question surrounding Peppers would be if he can successfully transition to outside linebacker. I feel that he can. First, consider that Peppers did play basketball at UNC, and was a great defender during his time there. What does this say? It says he must be fluid in his hips, which is critical in coverage. Could you imagine Peppers swatting passes out there? Yes, he may be a little bit long in his frame, but I don’t think he is as “stiff” as some analysts say.
The last issue surrounding a trade for Julius Peppers would be his contract. Under the franchise tag, he is due $16.88 million for next season. This means the Patriots will absolutely have to work out a contract extension to make the deal final. I think a contract in the 5 year, $45 million range would not be unreasonable. I would expect a big , un-guaranteed signing bonus due the second year, so that Peppers will have to “prove-it” as a rush linebacker.
Whatever the case may be, things are going to be getting pretty hectic pretty quickly.