Belichick Says No Peppers Trade Talks
New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick told Boston radio station WEEI today that the Patriots aren't involved in any trade talks with the Carolina Panthers about defensive end Julius Peppers, the Panthers' unsigned franchise player.
"I've read things out there about, 'Well, there's trade talks going on,' " Belichick said during the radio interview, according to an account by the Boston Globe. "There's no trade talks going on with Carolina. They don't have a signed contract. They can't talk about trading a player who's not signed."
The Panthers also denied that they're discussing a Peppers trade with the Patriots after the NFL's website reported that the deal might be made, with a second-round draft pick going to Carolina.
Belichick did not rule out the possibility during the radio interview of obtaining Peppers.
The Panthers, by using their franchise player tag on Peppers, have the right to retain Peppers by matching any contract offer he receives from another team in free agency, and the right to receive two first-round draft choice from Peppers's new club if they allow him to leave. The Panthers also can agree to lesser compensation if they choose to do so.
"I think if a player wants to be traded or wants to be in a position where he could be traded," Belichick said during the radio interview, according to the Globe account, "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, 'Okay, I don't want to be here. Trade me. This is where I want to go.'... But you can't trade a player that's not under contract. That's a simple rule. And I'm sure Carolina hasn't tried to do that."
The Patriots used their franchise tag on Cassel and then, after he signed his contract tender, traded the quarterback to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft selection.
According to the Globe, Belichick defended the Cassel trade during the radio interview. He said there were no other firm trade offers from other clubs despite reports of possible three-teams deals that would have put Cassel in Denver and Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler in either Detroit or Tampa.
"We pretty much had the deal done with Kansas City because there really wasn't any [other] interest," Belichick said. "And 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.
"And 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.' [But] there was no offer. I think there's speculation as to what a team might have been willing to trade.... 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.' "
Belichick said he wasn't showing favoritism to Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli, the former Patriots' front office chief, by trading Cassel to Kansas City.
"I have all the respect in the world for Scott Pioli," Belichick told WEEI, according to the Globe. "He'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."
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