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Panthers pay Gross big money, franchise Peppers

Updated: February 19, 2009, 3:14 PM EST

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Panthers placed the franchise tag on defensive end Julius Peppers on Thursday, setting up a potential battle with the four-time Pro Bowl defensive end who wants to play elsewhere next season.

The move came moments after the Panthers signed All-Pro left tackle Jordan Gross to a six-year deal.

Gross' contract will pay him $30.5 million over the first three years of the deal, the Charlotte Observer reported on its Web site Thursday. The terms of Gross' deal represent the most lucrative three-year payout ever to an offensive lineman, the paper reported.

"We're done, I want to confirm that," Gross told the Observer. "I'm ecstatic to be part of the Panthers."

Having locked up Gross, the Panthers then placed the restrictive tag on Peppers, who had said he would request a trade under that scenario.

"Julius was expecting the franchise tag and we will continue to seek a resolution that is in line with his professional goals," Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, said Thursday, according to the Observer.

While Carolina will be required to offer Peppers a one-year guaranteed deal worth $16.7 million, no other team could sign Peppers without giving up two first-round picks to Carolina.

Placing the tag on Peppers theoretically allows the Panthers to trade him and get some compensation for the cornerstone of their defense. But Peppers has power because no team would likely trade for him without first securing a long-term contract agreement.

A person close to Peppers on Wednesday said he would agree to be traded to only four teams, including the Dallas Cowboys, who do not hold a first-round pick. So the Panthers face the prospect of not being able to work out a trade and then having Peppers either hold out or be disgruntled while eating up a giant portion of the salary cap with his nearly $17 million salary.

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true about that. were not throwing away two first rounders for him. I think peppers will have the same rebirth Jenkins had once he gets out of Carolina.

I'm almost sure they won't get 2 1st rounders for him....they'll get something done though.

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Two years ago he'd have almost been worth 2 first rounders. Now, I'd gladly give them our 2nd rounder if we could sign him for 5 years / $35MM or so. The irony is his tag salary is SO high I don't see why he'd take anything less than $10MM/year.

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plays when he wants to play

no thanks

Be that as it may, I don't care if the guy is the laziest SOB out there, but if he can put up 14.5 sacks, 51 tackles and 5 FF than I would take him anyday if I ran a 43. The man has had 1 bad year in his 7 years in this league and has averaged 10 sacks, 50 tackls and roughly 4 forced fumbles. He's a stud through and through, I don't see him as worth the money in the 34, but in a 43 the man is one of the best in the game.

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