After making borderline marginal moves during last year’s off-season, the rumors that continue to swirl around the Cleveland Browns continue to revolve around players with considerably more name recognition. Just yesterday, we discussed the rumors surrounding a pair (trio?) of Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks. And today, thanks to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, we revisit thoughts related to five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Julius Peppers.
The thinking behind listing the Browns as a “sleeper” candidate to land Peppers is, as expected, Mike Holmgren. The newly crowned president has quite a history with late defensive end Reggie White, dating back to the Green Bay Packers signing White as a free agent in 1993. Similar to what could unfold with the Peppers situation, White’s best years were with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, White was still able to record 68.5 sacks and was a major player in the two Super Bowl appearances by the Packers.
Entering the 2010 season, Peppers will be 30-years old and is coming off off a contract that saw him earn just under $17 million with the Carolina Panthers. Widely considered one of the best defensive ends in the league, Peppers’ skill set seems to fit better in a 4-3 defense. However, at this time last year, Pepper went public with his desire to switch to a scheme that he feels would better utilize his talents.
“I feel like my abilities could be maximized, and I could be even more productive than I have been in the past in a new system,” Peppers said. “I feel like I’ve gotten close to maxing out in the system that I’m in now.”
It would then be up to the Browns Pro Personnel department to determine whether or not Peppers’ skill set would in fact translate into whatever defensive scheme the team will be running in 2010.
A lot of this rumored decision would also be contingent upon what defense the Browns will be running next season.
As of now, we must assume that the team will be going forward with Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. In this, Peppers would likely find himself in a DeMarcus Ware-esque role where his responsibilities would rest solely on getting to the quarterback. Rumors have continued to circulate around Shaun Rogers moving to defensive end thanks to the play of Atyba Rubin. Robaire Smith and Corey Williams would likely split time on the other end. Given the size of the players that would preside on the defensive line, Peppers coming around the outside could pay huge dividends for a team that could use help getting to the quarterback.
Also in play would be the contract that would be required for Peppers’ services. For sake of argument, if we assume that Peppers is truely a defensive end, this would be even more money tied up on the defensive line – Rogers is slated to make nearly $7 million this season, Williams is looking at $5.9 million.
To add more variables into the mix, the Carolina Panthers were rumored to be looking at Corey Williams just one year ago. Also, the Browns have been linked to numerous rumors regarding a potential trade of Rogers to address areas of need, a freedom which they may have due to the elevated play of the abovementioned Rubin.
For now, we can only look at this as what it is: a rumor. But if the rumor holds true, the Browns can be looking at drastically improving their pass-rush attack, similar to how the Saints drastically improved certain areas of their team during their epic rebuild just four seasons ago.
(image courtesty of Getty Images)