CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Julius Peppers still wants out of Carolina, but he’ll only agree to be traded to four teams, further complicating the Panthers’ efforts to get compensation for the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
On the eve of the deadline to place the franchise tag on Peppers, a person close to the player said Wednesday that the impending free agent wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys or three other unnamed teams, two of them in the NFC.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the list wasn’t supposed to be made public, said Peppers wouldn’t agree on a trade to any other team, which would limit the Panthers since Peppers likely would have to sign a new contract with that new team before a trade could be executed.
Carolina likely would seek a first-round draft pick and other compensation for its all-time sacks leader, who announced last month that he wanted to leave after seven seasons. The Cowboys don’t have a first-round pick this year. The Panthers also would likely prefer Peppers not play for a fellow NFC team.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine, declined comment.
The news provides another twist in an important — and perhaps very costly — week for the Panthers, who also are trying to hammer out a new contract with Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross. That deal could cost Carolina approximately $9 million per year.
It was believed that if the Panthers could sign Gross before Thursday afternoon, they would slap the franchise tag on Peppers. That would mean offering a one-year deal worth $16.7 million, and no other team could sign Peppers without giving up two first-round picks.
That would leave the Panthers the option to trade Peppers and receive compensation in return, similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs did last year. After placing the franchise tag on defensive end Jared Allen, the Chiefs traded him to the Minnesota Vikings for a first-round pick and two third-round choices.
But Allen also agreed to a six-year contract with the Vikings that included $31 million in guaranteed money and could be worth $74 million if he meets certain incentives.
Peppers, who had a career-high 14.5 sacks last season, turned down a contract offer from Carolina last year that would have made him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL. Interested in playing in a 3-4 scheme instead of Carolina’s 4-3 defense, Peppers wouldn’t say last week if he would hold out of training camp if the Panthers place the franchise tag on him and then don’t trade him.