Julius Peppers could be answer to Falcons’ problems

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Matt Ryan probably wouldn't mind having Julius Peppers as a teammate. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

From an NFL fan’s perspective, there is one great thing about an uncapped year. Your favorite team can’t use the excuse, “We’d love to sign that free agent but we just can’t fit him under the salary cap.”

So to the members of Falcon nation, I present to you possibly the first name on the Falcons’ offseason shopping list: Julius Peppers.

Yes, it could happen — at least the part about Peppers’ availability. There are strong indications that the Carolina Panthers — who failed to come to terms with Peppers on a multi-year contract last season and were forced to sign him to the steep one-year franchise tag fee of $16.683 million — will allow Peppers to enter free agency.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter already is speculating that, “Carolina’s division rival Atlanta Falcons would be a logical landing spot, as Peppers would get to play the Panthers twice a season.”

Let’s examine all of the obvious reasons why the Falcons’ pursuit of Peppers makes sense.

♦ 1. While Peppers would be a significant investment — and there’s really no way to predict what he would fetch on the open market –he would be a huge boost to the Falcons’ anemic pass rush. The perennial Pro Bowl defensive end has 25 sacks over the last two years alone. This season, he recorded five forced fumbles, five passes defensed and two interceptions with 10 1/2 sacks.

♦ 2. The Falcons had to be concerned about John Abraham’s lack of production this season. He dropped from 16.5 sacks in 2008 to 5.5 in 2009. While some of that can be attributed to other problems on the line, including an injury to rookie Peria Jerry, there were several games when Abraham seemed invisible. The Falcons need to do something to create more pressure. For what it’s worth, Abraham has two years left on a six-year, $45 million contract.

♦ 3. The signing of an impact defensive lineman would allow the Falcons to focus on other areas early in the draft, including outside linebacker and cornerback.

♦ 4. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made significant veteran acquisitions prior to each of his first two seasons: running back Michael Turner two years ago and tight end Tony Gonzalez this season. It might be time for a big move on defense this time.

♦ 5. Falcons owner Arthur Blank never has shied away from spending money on his football team. If Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith believe Peppers will take the Falcons to the next level, he’ll support the move financially.

Question: Are you feeling how the signing of Peppers could impact the Falcons as much as I am?

281 comments Add your comment

Brandon from Warner Robins

January 31st, 2010
10:26 pm

omari

January 31st, 2010
10:26 pm

omari

January 31st, 2010
10:30 pm

i agree, go for it

Ree Roe

January 31st, 2010
10:36 pm

Interesting article Jeff, but I have a few questions before I would be in favor of this move.

1. How motivated would Peppers be? Panthers fans & members of the Panthers organization complained for years about ‘Peps’ lack of motivation on the field. Can we afford to spend 30 million on a player where we have to question if he’s bringing it every snap?

2. His attitude. On a defense as young as ours & without a vocal leader, a player like Pep, who has a reputation as being aloof & moody, could damage the strides Van Gorder & Smitty have made in player development.

I’m not totally against the move, but I think we might need to do some more homework on Pep before we decide to break the bank on him

-REEcently Roe!!!

Sporkdevil

January 31st, 2010
10:36 pm

He’s 30 and inconsistent. I would be pissed if we pay him way too much money. I guess if the coaching staff thinks they can get the effort he has lacked in Carolina, then it would be worth it.

Let’s just remember that the “aging John Abraham” is like a year and a half older than Peppers. There is a reason even Rich McKay was smart enough to let Kerney walk: he is too dang old to be worth a big and long term contract.

Tee

January 31st, 2010
10:36 pm

Never will happen.. 4th

atlantahawkfalcon

January 31st, 2010
10:37 pm

What makes you guys think the Falcons will sign Peppers?

BugKiller

January 31st, 2010
10:37 pm

Would Peppers accept a 3 or 4 year contract?

Maybe a 2 year contract?

Because at his level of inconsistent play the last few years, that’s what he’s worth in the amount of time.

Can’t make a long-term investment on a player like Peppers who’s 30 and could be a locker room disruption.

wheelbarrow of love

January 31st, 2010
10:40 pm

I’d do it.

Bill

January 31st, 2010
10:44 pm

He wants way to much money.i for one hope the falcons stay away from him. what happen to the panthers they paid him most of thier cap money and could not upgrade team.

Jason

January 31st, 2010
10:45 pm

DO.

IT.

NOW.

Kenny Powers

January 31st, 2010
10:46 pm

I agree with Sporkdevil. Peppers tends to disappear from time to time and some team will offer him a boatful of money. I think the falcons would be better off looking elsewhere.

woodie

January 31st, 2010
10:49 pm

He’s over the hill.

Bob in SF

January 31st, 2010
10:53 pm

Pepper’s only played hard recently in contract years, in fact he dogged it completely in 2007. No thanks. He will cost way more than he’s worth. Also I don’t think it’s Dmitroff’s style to sign a guy entering his career decline years while said player is looking for a ha-yoooge contract.

Bill

January 31st, 2010
10:56 pm

Abraham is not worth what the falcons are paying him and neather is Jamal anderson.Abe is not going anywhere hes got 2 years left on his contract.

Billy

January 31st, 2010
10:58 pm

As long as the Falcons don’t overpay for Peppers, I say go for it!

Singletary

January 31st, 2010
11:00 pm

Can you say OLD? I just did. He is the antithesis of everything TD has done so far. (Tony Gonzalez could be 45, and I’d still say he’s not old. He’s just got more class than BF4.) Trust the TD man. I do.

StephenW

January 31st, 2010
11:00 pm

Signing Peppers seems out of character for Dimitroff. His two major free agent signings were smart pickups where he didn’t have to overpay for probowl caliber talent. Turner was largely unknown as a backup to LT, and Gonzalez was a no brainer with a 2nd round pick. Unless TD can find a part-time starter with huge upside, I think (and would prefer) he goes for someone like Michigan’s Graham in the first round.

MarkTwain

January 31st, 2010
11:00 pm

From the limited time we saw Sidbury this year he looked extremely raw, but flashed serious potential. I’d hate to bury him. As for Abraham I agree with Sporkdevil. Peppers is only two years younger and would have done no better than Abraham this year. Losing Grady Jackson and having Peria Jerry go down exposed the depth issue at DT. No DT double teams= Abraham double teams= torched secondary. Can we actually focus on the cause of the problem for once? With due respect to Tony Gonzalez, if Dimitroff buys the fancy red sportscar again I’ll start to lose faith in him.

gadawgs

January 31st, 2010
11:04 pm

Absolutely, without question we need him.

AtlantaHawkFalcon

January 31st, 2010
11:05 pm

Thomas Dimitroff isn’t the type of guy to sign a “big name” talent. Yes, he signed Michael Turner in 2008, and traded for Tony Gonzalez in 2009, but you can’t consider them superstars.
Michael Turner was a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson (not a superstar), and anyone who considers Tony Gonzalez a “superstar” at this point of his career is a complete idiot.

You see, Thomas Dimitroff is a guy that believes in collecting talent through the draft. Not a GM who loads his team up with expensive players and contracts. Dimitoff was the Director of College Scouting for the New England Patriots for 5 years. He has learned from some of the best front office executives in the league.

So, it wouldn’t be so smart for him to sign an aging defensive end that will likely be asking for big money.

Tosin

January 31st, 2010
11:06 pm

Do it. Peppers,Abraham,Babs,and Jerry on the same line is living HECK for offensive lines

DHD

January 31st, 2010
11:07 pm

I’m a Pepper. Do it, Mr Blank!!

Tosin

January 31st, 2010
11:09 pm

And plus with the DE problem solved, we can work on evaluating CBs (Perrish Cox) and OLBs (Eric Norwood).

Tosin

January 31st, 2010
11:10 pm

*for the draft

BosnianBaller

January 31st, 2010
11:11 pm

I agree perfect fit.

LetsGetRealAlready

January 31st, 2010
11:19 pm

When Peps motor is running full-tilt, he is one of the most dominating players on the field. His intensity is contagious and makes his team better. The down side is, his motor seems to be a 1970’s Jaguar. Runs when it runs…..which isn’t often enough. I even remember him getting taken to the woodshed by a good left tackle at Tech and not making a single play in the game. That should never happen even if your opposition is good. But it did and I remember the announcers dogging Peppers a bit for getting held out of the backfield and on any tackles. If he can be coached to play every down, I say take ‘em and pay ‘em. I just think that is a risky bet after all these years. His play on/play off mentality has to be totally ingrained in to him by now.

singndablues

January 31st, 2010
11:21 pm

There are better options out there. Aaron Kampman from Greenbay had a so-so season last year but that was after the defense made a switch to the 3-4. He just doesn’t fit in that defense. The previous three years in a 4-3 he had 9.5, 12 & 15.5 sacks. He’s 30 should come at a reasonable price and could provide solid play till one of the younger players are ready to step up full time.

Ray Edwards from Minnesota may be another option also.

Peppers will cost too much for too long and doesn’t always show up for games.

bigstack19

January 31st, 2010
11:29 pm

I don’t think at his age he is worth it unless he were the missing piece to a Super Bowl Championship which I believe he is not. Ray Edwards isn’t a big name like Peppers but can get after the QB and would be much cheaper. The money saved could be used on a corner or a wide receiver to go opposite White or to shore up the o-line.

Bill

January 31st, 2010
11:30 pm

Hell Yes..do it ASP!

Mr. G

January 31st, 2010
11:44 pm

Don’t bring that old bag of bones here!!!!

falcon

January 31st, 2010
11:49 pm

I think Peppers’ best years are behind him. We don’t need 2 Abes.

Paul in RDU

January 31st, 2010
11:54 pm

I watched Peppers have some great seasons for the Carolina Panthers. I also watched him basically take 2007 off. He came back strong in 2008 – a contract year. He wanted out of Carolina after the 2008 season, claiming he needed to play in a 3-4 and then pouted for the beginning of the 2009 before playing well from the middle of the season on. .
If the Falcons are going after him, which Peppers do they expect to show up?

Jermaine

January 31st, 2010
11:56 pm

If there is even the slightest of possibilities of this happening DO IT DO IT NOW!!!

F Troop

February 1st, 2010
12:27 am

The downs outweigh the ups. We can use Peppers, but he is NOT required. 30 years old? A bit too old. 16 mill? Ew, too high a price. The injury factor for DE’s increases at 30+ years. On the other hand, the up side of the deal is our pass rush problem – barring injury or hidden injuries – is immediately solved. Pep’s a stud, but I think there are other younger, hungrier, vets dancing around the NFL to fix the Falcons pass rush problems.

I say no.

headmofo

February 1st, 2010
12:29 am

Could be a great pick up as long as the contract is for 2-3 years. Peppers is not a young gun anymore. While he can be as dominant as any DE in the league he is getting “long at the tooth,” and is not always consistent in his performance. His services could be used as a stop gap and then we would have time to develop a good young DE and not draft one in the 1st round and expect him to get 10 sacks his first year only to label him a bust if he under achieves. With a free agent you know what your getting, with a draft pick you don’t.

Most new regime’s give themselves three years to build a winning organization. Well this upcoming season would be three years under Coach Smith and Thomas Dimitroff. I would say that we either get an experienced Defensive End or Corner in Free Agency if the plan is to win now. This would give us an opportunity to address other key positions in the upcoming 2010 draft. It is widely known that we are in the market for a Defensive End or Corner. If DE or Corner are addressed through Free Agency we can go after other positions of need in the draft. (Outside Line Backer, Wide Receiver, Offensive Lineman, Place Kicker, Defensive Lineman just in case Babs is suspended and Tight End).

I also, believe that it is in our best interest this year to move down in the draft. If we can move down in the 1st round we may be able to get another teams 2nd round pick to replace the pick we gave K.C. for Tony Gonzalez. Either way if you look at the season we were only two or three players away from winning four more games.

Stinky

February 1st, 2010
12:31 am

If not Peppers, how about Johnny Damon?

Stirg d'Nahsif

February 1st, 2010
12:42 am

I’m not against it but I, too, question his motivation (see Ree Roe, 10:35 comment). Peppers indicated last year that he wants to play in a 3-4 defense. I think that we would prefer and search for that fit. I’m certain, still, that he’d make an immediate impact and I’m equally convinced that he would raise the level of our defense. However, if we have the resources to acquire a name like Peppers, we can also acquire a name like Vince Wilfork (which would be a more logical signing). It would be more convenient to fill the position of DE than it would be to fill the position of DT. Jerry is returning but he’s returning from injury; furthermore, he’s still a rookie. Yet, on the ends, we have Biermann, Sidbury, Davis, Anderson and, perhaps, a first round draft pick (e.g., Graham, UofM). In order of priority, I say we start with Wilfork, then Peppers, whichever comes first.

Dawg

February 1st, 2010
12:45 am

Please NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. i lived in Charlotte for 6 years. When he wants to play, he is devastating. Most of the time… Not so much. He will disappear for multiple games not just a portion of a game. Huge mistake to sign him. He’ll play 2 games a year – against the panthers

headmofo

February 1st, 2010
12:50 am

If we have an uncapped year. We could address our two largest areas of need in Free Agency. You know what your getting in these two guys (below).

DE Julius Peppers from the Carolina Panthers

CB Daunta Robinson from the Houston Texans

These moves put us in position to move down in the draft trade players (like Norwood should another team come knocking) and stockpile more picks for this years draft and for years to come. With this posture we can address all areas of need and not over spend on rookies that will need time to develop.

TRAVIS B

February 1st, 2010
1:49 am

I SAY YOU GO FAR IT THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE LOOK AT REGGIE WHITE WHEN HE WENT TO GREEN BAY HE WAS IN HIS THIRTY AND MADE THAT DEFENSE LOOK GOOD I SAY SIGN HIM AND LET SIDBURY LEARN FROM HIM AND ABE AND FOCUS ON CB AND GET SOME SPEED AT THE WE SPOT TO GO WITH RODDY WHITE

Jim of Hiram

February 1st, 2010
2:06 am

Don’t like it. He’s too old, and would want too much money! Not TD’s style, either. Like someone else on here said, we don’t need TWO Abes.

CarolinaPantherFan

February 1st, 2010
2:28 am

as a panther fan, i’d just be careful not making the same mistake as john fox and marty hurney did for us last year. the probability that one player is going to come in and be the ‘missing piece’ is not high and overpaying for a player at the expense of adding quality depth is a recipe for disaster ( see carolina panthers – 2009 offseason moves ) in a game as injury-wrought as the nfl. finding quality contributors like tony gonzalez at a decent price is a much better strategy, imo.

Edo River

February 1st, 2010
2:56 am

wouldn’t the Panthers do every thing possible to keep Peppers from coming to a division rival? Surely their fan base would force them to do ALMOST anything to keep him away from here. I think wishing for Peppers is akin to wishing for the tooth fairy.

Dr. Warren

February 1st, 2010
3:07 am

The guy disappeared a couple of years ago for the Panthers. Remember? So Abraham had an off-year himself–let’s see what he does next year.

Frank Wren

February 1st, 2010
3:51 am

Jenner

February 1st, 2010
4:42 am

NO!
Peppers is not worth that much money.

And Atlanta is a Diva-free zone!

falcon71

February 1st, 2010
4:49 am

no way TD wastes money on this part time player

Felix the Cat

February 1st, 2010
5:24 am

You can use the increase in my season ticket prices to offset any difference…Thanks in advance for your concern of the sluggish economy…..geeesh

Clayton

February 1st, 2010
5:30 am

That would be nice except that he stated he wanted to play OLB in a 3-4 def. plus we cant afford to sign anyone else if a salary cap is agreed to a year or two down the road.