Don't put all the blame on Peppers

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Just read through the lengthy interview Charles Chandler did with Carl Carey, the agent for Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers.

Some very interesting stuff in there, but one thing really jumped out. Carey says repeatedly about how much respect Peppers has for the Panthers -- specifically, the coaching staff and front office. That's all nice and diplomatic, but it doesn't ring true.

If you respect a coaching staff so much, you don't want to leave it. And you sure as heck don't make it a point to say you feel like you've got a better chance to reach your full potential somewhere else.

There are theories out there that Peppers is pointing the finger at defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac, defensive line coach Sal Sunseri or coach John Fox. Fact is, it's not any one guy. It's all of those three and probably some others.

This isn't something brand new. Peppers hasn't been happy in Carolina for some time now and he pretty much moped through the entire 2007 season when he produced a whopping 2.5 sacks. I thought maybe the situation had corrected itself in 2008, when Peppers had 14.5 sacks.

But it obviously didn't. It's easy to put the blame on Peppers and label him as a selfish malcontent. But that might not correct. This isn't about money. The Panthers made Peppers an offer that could have made him one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league.

Peppers turned it down because he's not happy with the situation in Carolina. If I'm Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and team president Mark Richardson, the question I'm asking myself is, why does perhaps the best player in franchise history -- a North Carolina kid through and through -- so desperately want to get out of here?

Then, I'm looking real hard at the people who chased him away.