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Monday, May 4, 2009
Mailbag: Carolina Panthers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Carolina Panthers are the final stop on our tour of team-by-team mailbags.

Jaquay in Charlotte,NC writes: How is Mr. Richardson doing?

Pat Yasinskas: All the reports I hear from people within the Panthers organization are very positive about Jerry Richardson's recovery from a heart transplant. There's no hard date for a full return to work, but there's strong optimism he'll be back to most of his duties by the start of the season.


Nathan in Mooresville, nc writes: With Jerry Richardson recovering from his heart transplant, can we look for Mark Richardson to have a more hands on approach when it comes to the football side of things. I know that Jerry lets his football people handle the football side, just curious if Mark had any Jerry Jones in him?????

Pat Yasinskas: As team president, Mark Richardson long has played a bigger role for the Panthers than a lot of people realize. Even before his father's illness, Mark pretty much ran the day-to-day operations of the team. When the Richardsons first came into the league, they were pretty hands-on when it came to the football side. That didn't work out very well. They've backed off from that approach and have given Marty Hurney and John Fox a lot of freedom in their tenure. That's worked out pretty well, so I don't see that changing.


Mike in Winston Salem, NC writes: Pat, as always thanks for the great job you do. I have a question that I think you could answer. I tried to ask during the live chat but I understand you have 500 questions popping up every second. If Julius Peppers decides to hold out rather than play when does his money apply back to the salry cap so it could be used by the Panthers or are the handcuffed by that all year? Thanks again

Pat Yasinskas: The basic answer is the Panthers would have to carry the cap burden for Peppers all year if he holds out. Now, there could be some creative ways around that, like placing him on the retired list or pulling the franchise tag off him. But moves like that would be a last resort. There still is a lot of time for this situation to play out in a way the Panthers can live with.


Sheldon in Atlanta writes: Julius Peppers and his agent have been very quiet lately. Do you have any knowledge if they have been shopping Peppers to other teams and what sort of response they are receiving? Do you think maybe Peppers is not getting the kind of interest he expected?

Pat Yasinskas: I think it's safe to assume that Carl Carey (Peppers' agent) has shopped his client around the league for a few months now. Peppers wants out of Carolina and the only way he can get out right now is if Carey brings the Panthers a trade offer they like. As long as Peppers hasn't signed the franchise tender, the Panthers can't approach other teams about potential trades. The fact that nothing has happened is probably a pretty good indication that other teams aren't willing to pay a premium price in compensation to the Panthers. They also may be scared off by what it might take to get Peppers to sign a long-term contract.


Daniel in Charlotte, NC writes: Hey there Pat, I guess this is a bit late, considering the draft was last week, but I'm still wondering: what was the point of the Panthers drafting a running back (albeit in the 4th round), if they already have one of the best, if not best, running back duo in the league?

Pat Yasinskas: The Panthers weren't looking for someone to beat out DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart when they drafted Mike Goodson in the fourth round. They were looking for someone to help fill the role of Nick Goings, who was released after last season. They would like Goodson to be able to handle some carries if there is an injury, but his primary role is likely to be on special teams, where Goings was a fixture.


Jason in (KS) writes: I'm sure you will get tons of Peppers questions (and I'm sure you are getting a little tired of the whole situation) so I will ask what you think about Ron Meeks and can he revitalize the bland defense?

Pat Yasinskas: I'll start by saying I always thought former coordinator Mike Trgovac was a good coach, although I know a lot of you disagree. But, sometimes, change is good. Meeks did a fine job in Indianapolis and should help Carolina. But keep one thing in mind: As long as Fox is the head coach, he's going to play a big part in what his defense looks like.


Nathan in Charlotte writes: If peppers wanted to be traded so bad why would he not sign the tender that allowed him to be traded?

Pat Yasinskas: Good question and only Peppers and his agent could give you the true answer. But I'm guessing they think they would lose some leverage if Peppers signs the tender.