Whatever It Takes, the New England Patriots Need Some Pepper This Year

Andrew CahillSenior Analyst IMay 16, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 14:  Quarterback Tim Rattay #12 of the Arizona Cardinals recovers his own fumble as he his tackled by defensive end Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers at University of Phoenix Stadium October 14, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona. The Panthers won 25-10.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

 Patriot Pat says...

I believe the Patriots need to trade for Julius Peppers, but what would it take, and how would it happen?
There are a few things that we know:
  • According to Miguel the Patriots have $4.7 Million in cap space.
  • The outside linebacker position is the weak point of the Patriots' defense.
  • The Patriots are overstocked with potential nose tackles.
  • Trading Vince Wilfork will free up another $1.7 Million in cap space.
  • 2009 is the final season on Wilforks' contract.
There are questions that need answering when considering if a deal for Julius Peppers is even feasible:
  • Would Julius Peppers be willing to be paid a high end outside linebacker salary in the range of $6-8 Million, versus an extraordinary defensive end salary?
  • Are the Carolina Panthers interested in another defensive tackle for their 4-3 defense? They have a lot, but all but four are rookies or one year players.
  • Would the Patriots be willing to give up the 2010 second round draft picks that it would most likely cost the team?
The question I am asking then is this; should the Patriots unload Vince Wilfork (or any other important member of the team for that matter) and draft picks, to bring in Julius Peppers to play outside linebacker?
My first instinct about trading Wilfork is to think "no way, Vince Wilfork is the rock of this defense."
That sentiment is very true, but it has also been the case since he started as a rookie. There is no reason why Ron Brace could not come in and be a serviceable starting nose tackle in the two-gap 3-4 system the Patriots run.
You have to weigh up the options and decide whether having Peppers improves the defense if Wilfork is not a part of it. There is no real way to answer that, though. In my opinion, if Brace can perform to any acceptable standard, then the defense will be vastly improved by the addition of Peppers. 
If Brace could not perform to said standard, then the addition of Peppers will actually weaken the defense.
There is all kinds of talk about the Patriots' options with the current players on the roster:
  • There could be an increase of big nickel packages, utilizing the amount of depth we have at safety. 
  • We could see an increase in the use of four linemen, with any number of lineups behind them. Again, this will utilize the depth we have.
  • The one question in the defense is that of the outside linebacker position, but the young players (Crable, Redd, Woods) could rise to the occasion this year.
Looking back on the draft, I am really wishing the Patriots had used one of their first day picks on one of the many linebackers for the taking. This thought feels hypocritical to my points, though. 
I always say that the linebackers we have will not get better without playing time, but the question is if any of them can become the players that we need them to be. There is also no reason to say the players we could have drafted would end up being what we needed them to be either.
The only thing I do know, is that the Patriots could use some serious help at the OLB position, and that Julius Peppers is the answer.

This really makes me want him on our defense, no matter what. Whatever the cost is.

Just think about the idea of having him on this team, on this defense. There would be very few questions about the team in general, and they actually would be better on paper than the 2007 record breaking Patriots team.
I know giving up Wilfork seems like a radical idea, but that is the point. I want to shake it up on this one and see where things land. Remember, he is going to want big money next year. Would Carolina want him?
So know that I have your minds in full shock mode, I have some questions for you:
  • Would you want the Patriots to trade for Julius Peppers if it meant trading Vince Wilfork, or any other important member of the team for that matter?
  • If not Vince, what would you be willing to give up (use Miguel's page for salary cap references) to get exactly what the Patriots need to be the most dominant team in the league this year? For example, trading Richard Seymour would free up $3.3 Million if we traded him. Who would you rather depart with?
  • Who/what do you think Carolina will want in return?
  • Do you think the Patriots even need an addition at linebacker?
Before you comment, know that I am aware that Peppers has not signed the franchise tender, and can not currently be traded. Let's hear some legitimate ideas on how we could make this happen.

Andrew Cahill is a true Boston sports fan. Check out his Web site, "Patriot Pat's Patsies."

The countdown to the NFL's HELL is on...

UPDATE: There is talk of the Patriots trading with Oakland for DE Derrick Burgess. What do you think about that? 2 Pro Bowl seasons, but is almost 31, and has been fighting injuries in recent years.