CHARLOTTE — Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney did the expected Tuesday, announcing that the team would not use the franchise tag on defensive end Julius Peppers.
The 30-year-old Peppers will now enter the unrestricted free agent market, and the Panthers will be left to fill a spot that’s been nailed down for eight years.
Hurney said Tuesday the decision ultimately came down to the team’s unwillingness to swallow more than $20 million for another tag, even if that meant letting him walk with no compensation. He used the word “magnitude,” several times in discussing the tender, showing that the finances were what brought this deal down.
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Hurney also mentioned several times the young core of players that needed contracts in the near future — though he didn’t name them, players such as linebackers Thomas Davis and Jon Beason, center Ryan Kalil and running back DeAngelo Williams — as central to the decision to not tag Peppers.
“You have to weigh everything,” Hurney said. “We feel like we’ve drafted very well in recent years, ... We have some very talented young players that in the future that have to be addressed at some point.
“All those things are factors.”
Hurney stressed there were negotiations recently, and that he wasn’t closing the door on talking to agent Carl Carey again in the future, while acknowledging that it was very unlikely that Peppers would return.
“We have felt for some time that Julius would have the opportunity to test the free agent market in 2010,” Carey said in an e-mail. “He has had a very accomplished career thus far; but he is convinced that with this move he will thrive and develop fully into the player he was destined to become.
“He is excited about his future and looking forward to the process of selecting his next destination.”