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There were many fans that were hoping the Patriots would land the coveted Julius Peppers in free agency. However, it was not meant to be. ESPN is reporting that Peppers just inked a six-year deal with the Bears for apparently $12 million per year, and he could get $40 million within the first three years. Peppers was expected to get a big contract, and the Bears went above and beyond to ensure Peppers would be in Chicago next season.
So what does that mean for New England? Believe it or not, this could be a lucky break for the Patriots. There were reports that New England and Philadelphia offered Peppers a similar contract, but not quite as much as ‘Da Bears.’ If New England wanted, they could have upped their offer, but it would have limited their ability to make a push at other free agents.
Sure, having Peppers would have given the Patriots a great pass rusher. His age (30) was called into question, but he has proven that his endurance and health is nothing to worry about. Still, New England had other holes in their team that needed to be addressed. On the Patriots shopping list is help for the secondary, a healthy running back (sorry Fred Taylor), a second wide receiver to fill the temporary Wes Welker void, and a pass rusher.
Some possible targets are already gone. Chester Taylor joined Peppers in Chicago. Nate Burleson and Kyle Vanden Bosch are heading to Detroit. Gary Brackett is back with the Colts. Brandon Marshall seems Seattle-bound.
The best part of Friday, so far, was the Patriots locking up Tully Banta-Cain for three years. Banta-Cain was right there with Peppers in sacks and he even had more tackles. Should the Patriots find a complement to Tully, then they will have a strong one-two attack.
So, do not worry that New England was unable to land Julius Peppers. Instead, be happy that they have financial freedom to secure several other players. Plus, there is always the chance that Peppers could be this year’s Albert Haynesworth. If that’s the case, then New England just avoided a potential disaster.