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Host, Tim Ryan: “When you look at Peppers and if he’s not on that defense, who replaces that talent? Who would it be that could start to bring some pass rush off the edge? Is it Charles Johnson? I know Charles started to come along last year but from practicing against those guys every day, who is the next good pass rusher in Carolina besides Pep?”
Jordan Gross: “I personally think that we need to do whatever we can to get a deal done to keep him in house. Just what he does on the field and off the field, just kind of his image with the team and with the fans, it’s of the utmost importance that we keep him. I’ve spoken with him and he’s willing to leave, he’s willing to stay. He just kind of wants to see what the best situation is going to be for him. But I think Charles Johnson has really come a long way. He really did well at the end of last year. Big, strong, physical guy and is learning the game. We’ve got a new d-line coach who I don’t know anything about but maybe they could bring a little bit more coaching element that he hasn’t had yet. He’s probably our next in line but I wouldn’t be surprised if in the draft and in free agency they address the pass rusher.”
Ryan: “So talking to Pep would you say that if the money was right he would be willing to do a long term deal in Carolina to stay and finish his career?”
Gross: “You know, I can’t say that and not because I’m trying to be P.C., just because I really don’t know. He’s a pretty private guy. I texted with him back and forth a little bit these last few weeks and I just think he wants to find the right situation for him whatever that is. They’ve kind of made a lot of changes on defense and our coaching staff and maybe that’s what he was looking for, or what. He makes his home in Carolina and he said he wants to live there when he’s done playing and I think it would be hard for him to leave if the situation was right.”
Back to me now: Not sure how much importance to attach to this one. You could say that Gross said the words "willing to stay," but he also said "willing to leave."
Players are hesitant to say much on the topic, because few know Peppers well enough to comment intelligently. He's that way on purpose.