ESPN’s Chris Mortensen had a few interesting things to say today on NFL Live. Julius Peppers is telling the Panthers that he wants out, no franchise tag. He wants to play elsewhere. Mortensen seems to think that the Browns could be that elsewhere. He cited Mike Holmgren’s history of signing the best defensive end to ever hit the free agency market, Reggie White, as indication that the Browns could very well use their ample amount of cap room to scoop up the best defensive lineman playing in the league today. Let that soak in for a minute. There is obviously no merit to the idea as of right now, free agency is still a few weeks away, but it is definitely a thing to keep your eyes and ears open for.
Julius Peppers is 30 years old, so one could assume that his best years are behind him, but he did make the Pro Bowl this year for the 5th straight season. 2002 was his rookie year, and he won defensive rookie of the year honors, and that was only 8 years ago. So in football years, he still has a few good years left in him. He is 6’7” and 285 pounds, the kind of bulk that we need on our line, especially if we stay with the 3-4, but he is fast and athletically gifted enough to even stand up as a rushing linebacker on occasion. He is essentially unstoppable, even when playing very unmotivated football, like this past year, when he was franchise tagged by the Panthers which was not exactly what he wanted from the organization. In the 2009 season, he registered 42 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 5 forced fumbles. His production was better than that of the entire Browns defensive line. Add him to the mix and this defense automatically becomes much better. He would join forces with Shaun Rogers to make a very scary duo up front, both guys would require double coverage from opposing offensive lines, and that would free up space for Kam Wimbley and others to get after the QB. He has 81 career sacks in 8 seasons, only 2 years under 10 sacks. 2 interception returns for touchdowns by a defensive lineman! He has forced 30 fumbles and registered almost 400 tackles thus far in his career. Imagine him playing for the Browns, and things look almost good for 2010.
Now I know this was just an idea that I heard on the television, but I definitely wanted to run with it. It would be an amazing addition to the team through free agency, which does come before the draft, and if we take care of one of our huge needs early on in free agency it would allow the team to focus on the rest of the needs during the draft. If the Browns sign Peppers, there would still be plenty of money for the team to go after other free agents and make massive improvements that all Browns fans hope and know are coming. I am not saying that the team is talking to Peppers, but it is nice to think about. I sure do hope that Mortensen is right though, and I have a feeling that if there is any free agents out there that Holmgren and Heckert want, they will get them. Holmgren is the big show after all.