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Belichick: No deal brewing for Peppers

03.19.09 at 5:33 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Thursday there are currently no trade talks going on between Carolina and New England for Panthers’€™ defensive end Julius Peppers.

Speaking on ‘€œThe Big Show’€ Thursday afternoon, Belichick was as plain as possible when talking about a rumored deal that was first reported on NFL.com earlier in the week, a trade that would send Peppers to New England for the No. 34 pick in next month’€™s NFL Draft. It’€™s an easy answer, Belichick explained, because Peppers, who has been franchised by the Panthers, has yet to sign the tender.

‘€œThere’€™s no trade talks going on with Carolina,’€ he said. ‘€œThey don’€™t have a signed contract. They can’€™t talk about trading a player that isn’€™t signed.’€

Belichick had nothing but good things to say about Peppers, calling him ‘€œone of the better players in the league.’€

‘€œHe brings a lot of skill and he’€™s had a lot of production,’€ Belichick said of Peppers, who has expressed an interest in moving from his current position of defensive end in Carolina’€™s 4-3 to outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.

Belichick acknowledged that when looking to swing a deal with a player who hasn’€™t yet signed a franchise tender, the interested team could use the agent as an intermediary. But he didn’€™t sound like a man who would be interested in brokering a deal through Peppers’€™ agent, Carl Carey.

‘€I don’€™t think that’€™s a good way to do business,’€ he said. ‘€I personally would not do it that way. I think if a player wants to be traded or wants to be in a position where he could be traded, then the best thing for that player to do is do what Matt Cassel did, sign the tender, be under contract, and then go to the team and say, ‘€˜OK, I don’€™t want to be here, trade me, this is where I want to go.’€™’€

Jason Taylor is another defensive end who has been linked to the Patriots. A free agent who has tormented New England in recent years with Miami, Belichick remained noncommittal about whether or not the Patriots would have any interest in his services.

‘€œThere’€™s a lot of players that aren’€™t with teams right now, and part of what we do is to look at all of them and evaluate them and evaluate our situation and what we can do, both financially and competitively, and try to see how all that works together,’€ he said. ‘€œSo I wouldn’€™t want to comment on any player that’€™s not on our team, as far as that goes. We have a lot of respect for Jason and a lot of other players that are out there too. … We just have to see how ultimately all that could and would work together.’€

Belichick also addressed the rumors surrounding the Patriots decision to trade Cassel and Mike Vrabel for a second-round pick to Kansas City. He indicated the team received the signed contract from Cassel the Sunday of the combine, and that’€™s when they were free to discuss trading possibilities. Saying there were a ‘€œnumber of teams’€ they talked to after Cassel signed his tender, it’€™s apparent New England did not want to wait around while the trade market simmered. In addition, Belichick seemed dubious about being able to negotiate a three-way deal, as had been rumored between Denver, Tampa Bay and the Patriots.

‘€œWe pretty much had the deal done with Kansas City because there really wasn’€™t any interest,’€ Belichick said. ‘€œAnd some of the teams said a three-way trade and that kind of thing, and those teams ‘€” and I don’€™t want to get into specifics ‘€” but believe me, those teams I had contact with 24 to 48 hours before confirmation of the trade with Kansas City, and those teams said they had no interest in the player.

‘€œAnd you know, all of a sudden, we’€™ve got a situation at the last minute, ‘Well, we would have done this, we would have done that.’€™ There was no offer. … The bottom line is it was never really there, presented. It was like, ‘Yeah, maybe this could happen,’€™ but it was never presented like ‘Here’s a firm offer.’€™’€

The sheer number of players involved in such a deal would also have held the trade up, hardly an appealing prospect for Belichick, who recalled the Deion Branch trade as a long, drawn-out affair he had no interest getting into again.

‘€œGetting a contract done, getting a trade done, getting all that, to think that’€™s going to happen in five minutes in a situation like that that came up that weekend ‘€” which is what I think some people have kind of put out there ‘€” I don’€™t think that’€™s really accurate,’€ he said. ‘€œIt just doesn’€™t really happen like that in this league.’€

In the end, Cassel and Vrabel were sent to Kansas City for the 34th overall pick in the 2009 Draft. Belichick dismissed the idea that Denver offered a first- and third-round pick for Cassel.

‘€œThey never made that offer to me,’€ he said.

Belichick described the conspiracy theories that have abounded in the wake of the Vrabel/Cassel deal ‘€” that he and former New England GM Scott Pioli somehow worked in concert to orchestrate the trade at the expense of the rest of the league ‘€” as ‘€œpretty ludricous.’€

‘€œLook, I have all the respect in the world for Scott Pioli.’€ Belichick said. ‘€œHe’€™s a great friend, and he’€™s a terrific executive and personnel manager, but I work for the Patriots. I have no loyalty to anybody or any team other than the New England Patriots. Everything I do is for our team to win and be successful. And that’€™s what my commitment is.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jason Taylor, Julius Peppers, Matt Cassel
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