My first reaction to the news about Julius Peppers wanting out -- and so badly! -- is pretty simple: You've gotta be kidding me.
Why that ungrateful, egocentric, leave-his-homestate-team-in-the-lurch loser... That's what you're thinking right now, isn't it?
But it's more complicated than that. This doesn't make anyone look good: Not Peppers, not defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac or coach John Fox (who have failed to make their best defensive player happy), not Peppers' agent Carl Carey... Nobody is going to come out of this one smelling like roses.
When Kris Jenkins wanted out last year, well, that one could be dismissed. Jenkins was talented, often unmotivated and downright strange at times. Peppers, on the other hand, is as quiet as a library but works hard and would be a far bigger loss than Jenkins.
What's his problem with Trgovac and Fox and the Panthers' system anyway? I'd guess it would be the fact the Panthers don't blitz very much and play soft zones so often -- we all know Fox often plays not to lose rather than to win -- but that'd just be a guess. Pepper's agent Carl Carey told The Observer's Charles Chandler that Peppers is intrigued with the idea of playing in a 3-4.
Certainly, you've got to parcel out some of the blame to the Panthers on this one, for sure, not only to Peppers -- who is generally as low-maintenance as they come.
So what now? The Panthers could be petty and say: "You're not going anywhere. It's us or nobody." Then they put the franchise tag on him and, if he wants, he can sit out the year for nothing (like Sean Gilbert and John Riggins did many years ago).
Or, cooler heads could prevail and Peppers could end up staying.
More likely, though, this will ultimately mean Peppers has played his last game for Carolina. The Panthers will work a trade with someone (probably in the AFC) -- the price Jared Allen commanded in Minnesota would be a good start. They may franchise Peppers first to protect their rights, then work a sign-and-trade.
No doubt about it, though: the kicks in the teeth just keep on coming for the Panthers over the past week.