Mailbag: Carolina Panthers edition

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

We'll start off today's team-by-team mailbags with the Carolina Panthers.

Vance in Greensboro, NC writes: Why in the world would the Carolina Panthers trade Julius Peppers a former second overall pick, with 70 career sacks for just a second round pick. I don't doubt that there are thoughts and discussions, but don't you believe it will take more than that to get Peppers?

Pat Yasinskas: I think the talk of the Panthers trading Peppers for a second-round pick might be wishful thinking on the part of the Patriots. I don't rule out the trade of Peppers to New England or another team before the draft. But I think it will take more than a second-round pick. The Panthers want to get some value for a player who should have plenty of value.

Steve in Apex,NC writes: Peppers is handcuffing the Panthers and any offseason plans the front office may or may not have had for free agency. Do you see them pulling off something similar to last years draft day bonanza?

Pat Yasinskas: Well, at the moment, it's tough to imagine the Panthers making the kind of splash they made last year when they got Jonathan Stewart and Jeff Otah in the first round. They don't have a first-round pick right now. But that could change, depending on the Peppers situation. Carolina has needs, particularly on the defensive line, and you could see some movement before the draft.

Jeff in Herndon, VA writes: Pat, Could the possible trade information involving the Peppers to the Patriots be a ploy by the Panthers? They could have leaked that information to start the bidding so to speak. Now other teams will jump into the mix -- no team wants the Patriots to have a guy like Peppers especially not for a mere 2nd rounder.

Pat Yasinskas: Think you might be looking in the wrong direction on that one. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney, who is a very straight shooter, came out and said there have been no talks between the Patriots and Panthers. Now, it's possible for Peppers and his agent to talk about potential contracts with other teams, but they can't work out any trades. There definitely could be something in the future on a trade for Peppers, but the talk of a second-round pick as compensation may be wishful thinking by the Patriots.

Jordan in Sioux City, IA writes: Pat- Wouldn't it be to the Panthers benefit to go out a get a good QB in Cutler? I'm a huge Jake fan but after that ridiculous showing in the playoffs I think it's time to get someone that will throw the ball to the right team. Your thoughts?

Pat Yasinskas: I have a tough time seeing it happen because Hurney and coach John Fox are very loyal to Jake Delhomme. That may be a mistake on their part, but that's how they operate. I do think this would be a chance for the Panthers to get a franchise quarterback, and I see logic in trading for Jay Cutler. But my guess is, if Cutler ends up anywhere in the NFC South, it will be Tampa Bay.

Mike in Eden, NC writes: Hey Pat, What are the chances the Panthers go after Torry Holt?? Holt has allready said he would like to play for the Panthers and he has ties to the state.

Pat Yasinskas: There's logic in this because of Holt's ties to the Carolinas. But I think it's a long shot because of Carolina's salary-cap situation. If Holt still wants to make big money, he can probably get it elsewhere. But I don't see the Panthers being able to pay him much.

Catman in Hickory, NC writes: pat: first, great job on the blog. it's nice to be able to get up-to-date & relevant info.daily. my question has to do with the salary cap. do NFL teams' payroll numbers need to be under the cap even in the off season or only during the regular season. if it's all year round, what is the purpose of that rule?...to prevent teams from stocking players? Thank You

Pat Yasinskas: Short answer is, there's pretty much a salary cap in place all year. The one exception is between the end of the season and the start of free agency. All teams had to get under the cap for the start of free agency and they have to stay there. From now until the start of the season, only the top 53 cap figures count toward each team's cap. At the start of the season, all cap figures (including those for players not with the team) count.