I've been a pretty big fan of what the Vikings have done this off-season thus far. They upgraded their safety spot with Madieu Williams, they added a legitimate deep threat at wide receiver in Bernard Berrian, and they've added depth at defensive line and linebacker while upgrading their special teams. But the potential lies out there for the Beloved Purple to do something even greater. . .a move that could potentially push their defense into the NFL's elite.
The Carolina Panthers are, apparently, shopping DE Julius Peppers around to interested parties. Yes, that Julius Peppers. And rumors are beginning to surface that the Vikings are interested. . .as well they should be.
Peppers is considered in some corners to be the best all-around defensive end in the National Football League. He dealt with some nagging injuries in 2007, and his sack numbers were down as a result. . .he only registered 2.5 sacks last season. However, the rest of his numbers were still quite good. . .he had five passes defensed, an interception, and three forced fumbles.
What would Minnesota have to give up for him? Well, it would certainly include the #17 overall pick in the draft, and probably at least another pick or two. In addition, the Vikings would have to pony up a contract extension for Peppers, who is in the final year of his current contract. However, since the Vikings' front office manages the salary cap better than any front office in the National Football League, that part really shouldn't be a concern.
If the Vikings could pull off the acquisition of Peppers, it would give the Vikings the best defensive line they've fielded since the days of Chris Doleman, John Randle, and Henry Thomas. Could you imagine Peppers lining up at LDE and teaming with the Irresistable Force and the Immovable Object? For crying out loud, we could start a blocking sled at RDE and still have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Here are Peppers' career sack numbers:
2002 - 12 sacks
2003 - 7 sacks
2004 - 11 sacks
2005 - 10.5 sacks
2006 - 13 sacks
2007 - 2.5 sacks
That's an average of right around 11 sacks a year. Pretty damn good, considering that the Vikings' team leaders last season each had 5. He's also a great athlete, with his 31 career passes defended and 4 career interceptions. . .one of which he returned 97 yards for a touchdown back in 2004.
I'm usually loathe to give up draft picks. . .but, in my opinion, Peppers is so far above and beyond anybody that we could potentially draft at #17 that if the deal became available, the Vikings would be absolutely crazy not to make it. Will it happen? We'll have to wait and see. . .but I'll certainly be keeping my fingers crossed for it.
[editor's note, by Gonzo]
Let me alleviate any confusion here by saying that I have no "inside sources" or anything that would lead me to believe that a deal is imminent, or that a deal has even been offered or discussed. I'm simply expounding on something that I've seen in a couple of places on the Interweb.
I apologize if there was any confusion from the statements made in this story.