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DMN: Did the Bears tamper with Peppers?

Also, Cromartie and the Jets, and why the Eagles won’t trade Vick. Michael Lombardi

Print This March 03, 2010, 10:08 AM EST

QUOTE: “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery.” -- James Joyce, “Ulysses”

Julius Peppers and the Bears

Free agency is set to begin in two days, and the largest tampering party (the combine) is now over. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Bears might have met with Julius Peppers’ representatives while in Indy. On the surface, most teams avoid any tampering charge when meeting with agents because most agents have more than one client, so teams can claim they’re meeting to discuss another player, not the free agent. However, Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey, doesn’t have any other clients, so if a meeting took place at the Hyatt, the Bears have a lot of explaining to do.

Now, I’m confident the Bears are interested in Peppers because they’ve expressed interest in signing other defensive ends. But I’m also confident that the Bears know Carey doesn’t have any other players, and meeting him might result in a tampering charge. Everyone in the NFL knows that Bears GM Jerry Angelo never makes his way over to the stadium during the combine and prefers to stay in his suite at the Hyatt to meet with agents. So unless someone saw Carey walk into that suite, this will be hard to prove. The Bears charged the 49ers with tampering with Lance Briggs a few years ago, so they know what must be proven in these situations. If they do sign Peppers, there will be many questions to answer about this alleged meeting.

With Peppers, I’m sure there’s one team that’s interested but has yet to declare its interest. Some teams will hold back, let the market settle down and then come in at the last minute and match the price. Agents want to get as many teams in the race to start, make them declare their level of interest and force the price to rise. To avoid this type of back and forth, some teams, especially a team with a playoff history, will lay back and then swoop in at the last minute and make the deal.

The restricted market

I’ve been writing this for a while, but from talking to teams over the weekend in Indy, there will be considerable movement within the restricted market. Several teams will pay very close attention to the tenders, and the players who have low tenders or first right of refusal tenders will get some action. If a team is interested in trading a player, it might lower the tender and make it attractive for a team to come in and make an offer. If a team tenders a first and a third, most teams will back off, but if they tender just a first rounder, there might be more action. Remember, teams in the final eight can trade for players but can’t sign free agents, so a lower tender will pique the interest of the teams picking in the bottom of the first round.

The Jets and Cromartie

I heard this rumor while at the combine and was told by sources with knowledge to pay attention to it because there’s interest on the Jets’ part to make a deal. After being at the combine, one thing is for certain -- the Jets are going to add a corner to their team. The Jets are a final eight team but clearly can make a trade, and Antonio Cromartie has their attention. This rumor might have been shot down, but it won’t go away.

Trading for Michael Vick

I’ve been writing and saying all offseason that the Eagles will not trade Michael Vick unless they get a solid pick in return. And unless they get a second round pick, they won’t move him. You think that’s too much? Not really if you understand that if they hold on to him and he becomes a free agent in 2011, then signs with another team, the Eagles would probably get a compensatory third-round pick. So it makes sense to ask for a second rounder right now. Who will pay that? No one. That’s why I see Vick back with the Eagles.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

Could Brandon Marshall be a fit in Chicago? Check out this article from Bleacher Report to find out.

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