The Julius Peppers circus finally closed down the tent today, with the Panthers explaining why they decided to let him go after eight years in a news conference. Basically, their decision boiled down to the fact that Peppers was going to cost too much money.
I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for this one to be over. Aching for it to be over, really. This was the sideshow that just wouldn’t end, a “he-said, he-said” offseason distraction for what seems like forever.
Carolina painted itself into a corner once – paying Peppers $1 million per game in 2009. With an even tinier corner to play with this season, the Panthers have decided to cut ties instead of re-franchising Peppers for more than $20 million for the 2010 season.
So no more charging around the end for No.90. No more discussion about how many plays Peppers took off or how good he could have been had he had a motor that revved like Jon Beason or a heart like Sam Mills.
Peppers isn’t a bad guy, really, just a quiet one. If someone was going to write you or me the sort of checks the Panthers did for the past eight years, we wouldn’t turn it down, either.
What Peppers never gave the Panthers, however, was much of anything but stats. Peppers had little locker-room presence. He was never a natural leader and rarely tried to be one. He was a Pro Bowl defensive end for much of his career and yet he could have been more than that here.
Some team will still pay Peppers a boatload of money, although I would guess it will be a smaller boatload than the Panthers would have when they offered him that contract extension awhile back. Whatever.
It was time for a divorce. Peppers will be happier with a fresh start, and so will Carolina. He called this ending "bittersweet" in an exclusive interview with The Observer, but it's an exit door Peppers has been looking for going on more than a year now.
I think the Panthers will be just as good without Peppers – remember, they were only 8-8 last season -- if they use wisely the millions they will save by letting him go.