Julius Peppers wasn't there for the first day of the Panthers' minicamp Friday. And I would bet you he won't be there Saturday, or Sunday, or for any of the workouts in late May and early June that will attract just about everyone else in a Panther uniform.
I consider this a silent protest from Peppers, who wants to be unleashed to roam elsewhere but is being restrained by a $16 million yoke. Peppers doesn't want to be in Charlotte or with the Panthers anymore -- he's made that clear both through his agent and during the one interview he has given about the situation.
But the Panthers are also within their rights to restrain his freedom, and so they have. Now we've got a stalemate -- Peppers is also within his rights not to show up at minicamp, because he hasn't signed the "franchise tender" that will obligate Carolina to pay him $16 million this season once he does. (Can you imagine? There's $16 million waiting for you and you purposely avoid signing that contract? What a life.)
Now Panther head coach John Fox said Friday that he expects Peppers to be here "no later than training camp" and that he's hardly missing anything at this point. Fox, in other words, minimized the situation, which he always does whenever there's a hint of controversy around the Panthers. It's always just "part of the process."
But since I guessed correctly that Peppers wouldn't show up Friday on this blog last weekend, I'm going to make another guess now.
I don't think Peppers will be there for the first day of training camp, either.
I think No.90 is frustrated. I think he will try to force the issue a little more before just giving up and saying, "OK, never mind, I'm playing for you guys -- forget I ever said anything."
In other words, I don't think the Peppers situation will resolve itself anytime soon. Now I could be wrong -- perhaps Peppers will move into his dorm room at Wofford, happy as a lark, in late July with the rest of his teammates.
Somehow, though, I don't think so. My guess is that Peppers, at least briefly, becomes a training-camp holdout in Spartanburg as well.
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