The biggest name on the free agent market is going to be Julius Peppers. It was reported by his agent over the weekend that the Carolina Panthers are not likely to try and keep Peppers. Interesting, very interesting. What should Eagles fans read into this development?
My guess (and it is just that – a guess) is that the Panthers are tired of dealing with the situation. Peppers previously said he didn't want to stay in Carolina. Now, he says he is open to staying. He said last year that he was interested in playing linebacker for a 3-4 defense. The Panthers previously moved him from left end to right end to try and accommodate his wishes about where to play. At some point in a relationship it is just time to move on.
The Eagles should be interested if Peppers does in fact hit the open market. I still go back and forth about whether the move is smart. His potential is unbelievably intriguing. Guys with his size should not be able to run like linebackers or move the way he does. There is a flip side. Peppers will likely want one of the biggest contracts in the history of football. Is he worth that? Guys like Stewart Bradley and Brodrick Bunkley will need new contracts soon. Giving Peppers a mega-deal will affect them, like it or not. Will Trent Cole be happy with his deal if Peppers gets signed? These are important considerations. Remember, we're not talking about a big contract, but rather one of the biggest of all time.
In the last five years Peppers has 51 sacks. Cole has 47. That includes Cole's rookie year where he didn't start the whole year or even play a bunch of snaps early on. To be fair, Peppers gets more double teams, making it harder to get to the quarterback. Peppers also has forced 18 fumbles in that span. Cole only has 10.
As I said, the Eagles should be interested in Peppers. Still, there are some tough issues to discuss. You have to be very careful when talking about a deal this size. I would love to be a fly on the wall when Joe Banner, Andy Reid, Howie Roseman and Sean McDermott have their meetings about Peppers.
Great Personnel Men Come From All Backgrounds
Speaking of Roseman, I know some fans are worried about him being named general manager. There is concern because he doesn't have the usual football background. I understand the thinking, but you must have faith in Lurie, Banner and Reid on this issue. They have spent time around Roseman for years. They brought him along slowly, on the football side of things. Roseman has shown that he has a feel for personnel matters. Part of that is scouting players. Part of that is talking to the scouts and handling the information they bring in. Part of that is understanding what the team needs and how to address them, whether through free agency or the draft.
Being good at building up and running a team is something that doesn't require a specific background. Ron Wolf wasn't a football player, but he became one of the great personnel men of all time. Jimmy Johnson had an extensive football background, but knew nothing of the NFL when he took over the Cowboys. The trade value chart that he designed for the draft is still used today. His system of trading back to acquire lots of picks in the middle of the draft is still used on a regular basis by teams trying to rebuild. Panthers GM Marty Hurney was a sportswriter prior to making the jump to the NFL. He helped build a team that got to the Super Bowl and won multiple divisional titles.
On the other hand, Matt Millen was a star linebacker at Penn State and in the NFL. He was part of multiple Super Bowl winning teams. He became general manager of the Lions and had a miserable tenure, highlighted by the only 0-16 season in league history. Mike Ditka was a great player in the league. He later became a very successful coach with the Bears. Ditka is one of the few guys to win a Super Bowl as player and coach. He then went to the Saints and ran the whole show. Ditka did a terrible job running that team. They only won 15 games in three years and he made some really bad personnel decisions.
The jury is out on Roseman to be sure, but I think he understands that. This is the NFL. Getting one of these jobs is hard. If you are lucky enough to get a shot you expect to be held to a high standard. Roseman knows that he will always be scrutinized. The way to silence any critics is by doing a good job. Put together a couple of strong draft classes and make a key free agent signing or two and there won't be any more questions about background or qualifications, at least until the first move that doesn't work. Then you're back to square one and have to prove yourself again.
The QB Conundrum
I get a lot of questions about the Eagles quarterback situation. We have three talented players under contract for 2010. We've all got an opinion as to what should happen, but this is a highly complicated situation. One or two could be traded. All three could stick around for the upcoming season. No one knows exactly what will happen. After all, it takes two to tango. Teams don't discuss possible trades until at least the Scouting Combine, which comes up in late February.
Super Bowl Prediction
Football certainly has changed. The Colts and Saints will square off in the Super Bowl this Sunday. The quarterbacks of those two teams combined to throw for 8,888 yards and 67 touchdowns. Neither team has a star running back. Neither team has a great defense. It must drive Buddy Ryan crazy to watch a game today.
My pick in the game is the Saints. I'm not real sure why. They were dominant at times this year, but also showed they could win ugly and even come from behind when needed. There is just a certain feeling this team has that makes me think they will come through in the big game.