Peppers to become free agent

Updated: February 23, 2010, 2:49 PM ET
By Adam Schefter | ESPN

Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers will not be given the franchise tag and he says he's looking forward to testing free agency.


"Last night, I learned that the Carolina Panthers would not restrict my availabilityduring the upcomingfree agency period," Peppers said in a statement released Tuesday. "I feel good about having the opportunity tovisit with other teams.My goal will be to find the right match for my skill set.

"I am thankful for the eight seasons I have spent in the National Football League thus far; and am looking forward to beginning this new phase of my career," he added.

The official announcement from the team is likely to come Tuesday, when the Panthers hold a news conference to address a number of issues.

If the Panthers had opted to tag Peppers, it would have cost them $21.4 million -- about $1.3 million per game -- which the team deemed too pricey. Peppers will be one of the highest-profile free agents since Reggie White.

Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday to use their franchise tags.

Adam Schefter is an ESPN NFL Insider.