The Panthers defensive end told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer he was looking for “a big number” when he becomes a free agent in a few weeks.
“It’s all about the numbers with me. I don’t really have an end game to where I want to hustle or play around or play the market,” Hardy said. “I want a big number that I worked for, nothing imaginary. And if you don’t believe me, tell me what you want me to do and I’ll go do it for you. And then give me my number and we’ll be good.”
Hardy has played himself into a prime place in the market, with 7.0 sacks the last two games to give him 15.0 for the season. The former sixth-round pick said he wouldn’t be opposed to being franchise-tagged, however, adopting a more conciliatory stance than many in his position.
“I would love a franchise, man. Add another year on my career,” Hardy said. “Get to play football a little bit longer without a contract, another year to be in Carolina to give them a chance to get their fiscal responsibilities in order so we can be here forever like Steve [Smith] and a lot of other guys like Thomas [Davis].”
As for that discount?
“It’s still discounted. If you take $10 million off $110 million, it’s still $100 million,” Hardy said. “That’s not the case, but you know what I’m saying? It’s a number, it’s not ridiculous. But I want to be compensated and I want it to be what I deserve. And I will take a franchise tag if that’s what it takes to get it done.”
Tagging Hardy might be the safest play, if only because he’s a bit of a flake, who has gone with this oddball “Kraken” alter-ego to draw attention to himself. But the Panthers know it’s an act, and they certainly need him or a player like him opposite Charles Johnson to make their defense work.