Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has not been shy about the payday he’s expecting this offseason.
The impending free agent is steering clear of big waves in Hawaii because he knows that the 15 sacks he recorded during the 2013 season will make him a popular player on the open market. Assuming, of course, that the Panthers don’t sign or franchise him before he has the opportunity to shop his wares.
During an interview with Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, General Manager Dave Gettleman played it close to his vest when asked about the chances that will happen. Gettleman called Hardy “part of the puzzle” and that “we’ll see” if that part remains in the puzzle moving forward.
“I got to watch 17 games worth of stuff, but he’s obviously a presence,” Gettleman said. “Anybody can see that. It’s part of it. We’ve got to evaluate the whole thing and then come up with a plan.”
The Panthers would likely prefer a long-term deal and the short-term cap space that can be built into it to a franchise tag for Hardy, especially as they continue to clean up the cap mess that Gettleman inherited when he took the job last year. Cleaning that up at the expense of having Hardy applying pressure to quarterbacks doesn’t do much to help the Panthers on the field, though, and that’s why it is a good bet that Gettleman’s evaluation will lead Carolina to choose one of those options over letting Hardy walk as a free agent.