Are The Patriots Interested In Making A Deal?

The Patriots have plenty of ammunition to get a deal done, but how it plays out will depend on what the other side is asking for. It's possible the Patriots just find a solution via the Draft.

New England coach Bill Belichick said there has been no trade discussion with the Panthers surrounding Panthers franchised defensive end Julius Peppers.

In a radio interview with WEEI in Boston last week, Belichick said that no trade talks had taken place, re-emphasizing what Hurney has said in the past about that notion being against league rules.

"There's no trade talks going on with Carolina," Belichick told WEEI. "They don't have a signed contract. They can't talk about trading a player that's not signed."

Of course, that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers (AP Photo)

And Belichick did seem to offer a little advice for Peppers on the best way to get himself out of Charlotte.

"I think if a player wants to be traded. ... the best thing for that player to do is do what (former Patriots franchise player) Matt Cassel did which is to sign the (franchise) tender, be under contract and go to the team and say 'OK, I don't want to be here, you can trade me, here's where I want to go,'" Belichick said.

The danger in that, of course, is then the Panthers could turn around and trade Peppers to anyone in the league.

And since Peppers wants to control where he plays next season and beyond, he almost certainly won't sign his $16.683 million tender offer until he knows a trade is in place to a team that he wants to play for.

Still, Belichick doesn't sound like a guy who wants to part of a deal brokered by a player's agent.

"I don't think that's a good way to do business, and I personally would not do it that way," he said.

Carey has not returned numerous phone calls, but did tell the Boston Herald on Thursday he hasn't been contacted by the Patriots but has had preliminary discussions with GMs from other clubs in the league.

Carey, who said after the season that Peppers would not play for the Panthers ever again, seemed to soften that stance.

"While Julius is interested in the Patriots and a few other teams in the league, he is comfortable with the position he's in right now," Carey told the Boston Herald. "In the event we are unable to reach an agreement (with another team), Julius will be among the highest paid defensive players next season, and we will be comfortable with that. We're not in a position where we have to act hastily."

That could be the first steps in Carey laying the ground work for a Peppers' return to Carolina in 2009 if he can't orchestrate a trade as he once hoped.

That is certainly in contrast to what Carey told Carolina Growl on Jan. 17 when he said, "Julius has given a huge portion of his career to the Carolina Panthers and he feels that he has done all that he can do there and this is more about him trying it another way. For him that means trying it outside of the Carolina Panthers organization."

And when asked in a follow-up question if Peppers does not, under any circumstance, want to come back to Carolina, Carey said, "Right. He's ready to move on."

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