I’m going to put up an extensive mailbag today and hope that helps keep you occupied for the next few days as the NFC South Blog takes its first true time off since July. I’ll be back Tuesday, so have the mailbag stocked with more and we’ll do another mailbag next week.
Cody in New Orleans writes: I just read your recent post on Julius Peppers. I remember a while back you mentioning New Orleans as a possible landing place for Peppers. Well, from reading your article, if Peppers is really the way you describe him, there is not a chance he's coming anywhere close to New Orleans. Do you think Sean Payton would have that type of player in the locker room? I know he's a great player (when he wants to be) but the Saints are much about team chemistry and I just don't see Peppers fitting in.
Pat Yasinskas: To clarify, my first item about Peppers with speculation of the Saints being an impossible scenario was written before I had time to bring myself up to speed on the new rules in free agency this year. As one of the final four teams, the Saints can not sign an unrestricted free agent without losing one at a similar price tag. The Saints don’t have anyone to fit the profile. They can’t sign Peppers as a free agent. The only way they could get him would be if the Panthers placed the franchise tag on him and then traded him to the Saints. That’s a long shot. But I will say New Orleans is the one place in the NFC South that I think Peppers could fit. They’ve got strong locker-room leadership and a demanding coordinator in Gregg Williams. They also have plenty of other stars now, so Peppers wouldn’t have to feel like he’s the whole show. Besides, Peppers isn't a bad locker-room guy, he's just not a vocal leader.
Brett in Toronto writes: Why are the Buc's not mentioned as potential suitors for Cromartie? Don't they need a corner to play opposite Talib? There is no question regarding cap room and the Bucs who have a crowded back field are in a good position to send a running back to the Chargers.
Pat Yasinskas: Hey, I’m with you on this one. If the Bucs could get the Chargers to trade Cromartie for Derrick Ward, I think it would be a great move for Tampa Bay. Flip side is I don’t know that Ward is enough to excite San Diego.
Steve in Indio, CA writes: Just wanted to ask if there is any chance the Falcons try to dangle Jerious Norwood to the Chargers for Antonio Cromartie? Norwood would be missed of course but the addition of Cromartie would make the Falcons a better team immediately.
Pat Yasinskas: While I have no knowledge that situation has even been discussed, I certainly think it’s something the Falcons should consider. Cromartie could solve a lot of problems at cornerback. Norwood has had his moments in Atlanta, but hasn’t produced consistently. The Falcons also have Michael Turner and Jason Snelling at running back. I think they can spare Norwood if it means getting a quality cornerback.
Zach in Gainesville, GA writes: Why in the world would the Panthers just let Peppers walk? This makes no sense to me. We NEED to get something from losing him. The only thing I could think of as being a reason for letting him go is that they want to be active in free agency and if we tag Pep we won't have the cap room to do so until we trade him, which may be too late to snag a top FA or two...Help make sense of it Pat!
Pat Yasinskas: Zach, I wish I could make sense of this, but it’s not making any sense to me either. I firmly believe the Panthers should franchise Peppers and turn around and trade him. That way, they at least get something out of him. They get nothing if he simply walks. But I think this is more about a dysfunctional relationship than simply money. Peppers never has been comfortable in Carolina and the Panthers haven’t always handled him right. That’s brought a lot of frustration. I don’t think there’s anyone more frustrated than owner Jerry Richardson and I think letting Peppers walk might be his way of showing the rest of his players who is running the team.
Donnie in parts unknown writes: Are there any chances that Carolina will put the franchise tag on Julius Peppers?
Pat Yasinskas: As I said above, I personally would use the tag on Peppers. But all indications I’ve seen and heard are that they’re fully prepared to let him walk as an unrestricted free agent.
Steven in Los Angeles, Ca writes: Why does nobody think Steve Smith can handle having another great receiver on the field with him? He's not TO...Moose might be the only guy thats gotten along with him... but was there ever another number 2 other than Moose? Even when Moose wasn't there.. there wasn't really anyone other than Smith.
Pat Yasinskas: Dwayne Jarrett and Keary Colbert were drafted in the second round to take that role. Keyshawn Johnson got a big-time contract to take that role. All of those guys had some talent. None of them worked out and part of it was chemistry. Smith isn’t T.O., but he’s a volatile guy who views everyone as a potential threat. He wasn’t out there helping mentor Colbert or Jarrett and he and Keyshawn were never buddies. I’m not saying wide receivers have to be best friends. But there is some chemistry involved and for someone to succeed alongside Smith, they have to get the right kind of personality.