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The long-term futures of Julius Peppers and Steve Smith both may include tickets to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The short-term future may not be as kind.
According to ESPN, the Chicago Bears are making phone calls around the league to gauge the interest in Peppers. Though a trade is considered unlikely, the more solid bet is that the veteran pass-rusher’s future in the Windy City may already be written in stone.
Bears calling around the league, seeing if they can find a trade partner for DE Julius Peppers, per sources. Trade unlikely…
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2014
Peppers is 34 years old and is coming off a down season. He mustered 46 tackles, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles in 2013, which was his lowest sack total in the past three seasons. But while seven sacks may be intriguing to some teams in need of a rotational pass-rusher or defensive line help, they must consider Peppers is playing under a six-year, $84 million deal, and is owed $13.9 million in 2014.
More than likely, Peppers will be released by the Bears and become a free agent.
Smith’s status with the Carolina Panthers has been up for debate for most of the offseason after general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera were both noncommittal about the wide receiver’s future with the team during the NFL Combine.
According to NFL.com, the $7 million cap hit he’s due this season and that fact that he’ll be 35 years old come Week 1 makes Smith — like Peppers — difficult to trade. If a deal is unable to be struck, he’ll likely be cut, too.
The #Panthers are attempting to trade WR Steve Smith, per source. Given his $7M cap number and age (34), seems unlikely.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2014
Smith’s numbers declined again in 2013. He hauled in 64 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns, his lowest total since the 2010 season in which he played in 14 games.
The Panthers, who have been desperate to find pass-catchers to complement Smith for what seems like a decade, will have to completely revamp their receiving corps should they release him. Ted Ginn, Brandon LaFell, and Smith were three of the team’s top four pass-catchers in 2013.
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