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Panthers don’t plan to franchise Peppers

With 13 days to go until the period for applying the franchise tag closes, there’s no reason for any Panthers fans to hold their breath regarding a possible return in 2010 by defensive end Julius Peppers, who has spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Carolina.

Per a league source, the Panthers don’t plan to use the franchise tag on Peppers for a second straight season.

The reason is simple. Given his compensation in 2009, the rules push the franchise tender to $21.8 million for 2010.

That’s $1.326 million. Per game.

Peppers simply isn’t worth it, in Charlotte or elsewhere. And though the Panthers currently hold Peppers’ rights, they can’t trade him until March 5. But they won’t hold his rights on March 5 unless they use the franchise tag.

And if they use the franchise tag, Peppers should immediately sign the thing, since no one is going to pay him $21.8 million for one season of football.

(The transition tag isn’t an option, either, since the price for a one-year guaranteed deal will still be $21.8 million.)

So just as Drew Brees walked away from the Chargers in 2006 with no compensation to San Diego, Peppers most likely will leave the Panthers and go somewhere else.

At an annual salary far less than $21.8 million.