After months of curious speculation about why Julius Peppers wouldn't or hadn't signed the one-year, $16-million-plus deal the Panthers have provided him for 2009 under the franchise tag, suddenly he's signed it.
So let me admit this right off: I was wrong. I opined in a "Scott Says" blog on May 27 that I thought Peppers was going to hold out at least awhile in training camp, which begins Aug.2 at Spartanburg. After all, he already skipped the minicamp and summer school. Why not skip a couple of days at Sparkle City, too?
But no, Peppers has now resurfaced again, as has his agent Carl Carey, and it sounds like life is hunky-dory once more for Carolina and Peppers. A training-camp holdout would make no sense now that Peppers has contractually obligated himself to the team once more.
That has looked like the way it would turn out for awhile now -- even me and my pessimistic self didn't think there was any way Peppers would extend his holdout into the season, thereby turning down more than $1 million per game.
Just the timing of this signing is curious. It will certainly make a lot of NFL news, because this is the "dead period" for the NFL, meaning that even a "not-really-a-surprise" story like this will get major play for the next 24 hours or so.
In any event, this is good news for the Panthers. Even though they are having to pay through the nose to do so, they need Peppers given the defensive front four they currently have. They are a better team with him than without him. And since Peppers is well-liked (although little-understood) by most of his teammates, he will be accepted back into the embrace of Carolina's defense with little problem.
9 months ago