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In a move that may start to come full circle, the Patriots are reportedly talking to the Panthers about a deal for defensive end Julius Peppers for the 34th pick in the draft they received as compensation for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel.
According to NFL.com’s Vic Carucci, the Pats would convert Peppers to outside linebacker from defensive end to fit into their 3-4 defensive scheme.
According to league sources, the Patriots and Panthers are hoping to complete the deal at some point between the March 22-25 NFL owners meetings and the start of the draft on April 25.
Peppers, on whom the Panthers have placed a franchise tag that assures him of a one-year contract worth $16.68 million, would be converted to outside linebacker in New England’s 3-4 defense.
Reaction: How could Patriots fans ever doubt judgment of Bill Belichick? He knew he was never going to use the draft pick he received for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel. He traded them for $18 million in cap room and the 34th pick in the draft, which may be headed to the Panthers for Peppers.
Word is that the Panthers are cash-strapped, so acquiring a high-end second round pick makes a lot more sense than a first round pick. They would pay their second round pick much less than the first round selection, and in the deep 2009 draft, they could still grab first-round talent at No. 34.
If this move works out, I give Belichick an A++++++ for how he handled the Cassel situation and the offseason in general.