Earlier this month, Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn expressed shock over the failure of the team to commence negotiations with him or any of the other impending Carolina free agents.
“I don’t think they’ve talked to anybody, yet — not even Greg Hardy,” Munnerlyn said.
They’re apparently talking a Carolina blue streak now, Jack.
According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers have been communicating with defensive end Greg Hardy’s agent about a possible deal for the free-agent-to-be. The Panthers have until Monday to apply the franchise tag to Hardy.
Last week at the Scouting Combine, G.M. Dave Gettleman dodged the question of whether the tag would be used on Hardy.
“Every team is going to use everything in their bag to get it done,” Gettleman said. “So who knows? I don’t know.”
In the wake of the Combine, Gettleman knows more about Hardy’s market, since other teams inevitably made it known what they’d pay for Hardy. The Panthers now know what they’re up against, and they have to decide whether to sign Hardy to a long-term deal or apply the tag.
They also could apply the tag and continue negotiations on a long-term deal.
One potential problem comes from the six-year, $76 million contract given in 2011 to defensive end Charles Johnson. It becomes difficult, as a practical matter, to pay Hardy less than that, given his production over the last two seasons. Even if the open market doesn’t bear a deal averaging more than $12 million per year, it would be hard for Hardy to accept not at least being tied for the No. 1 compensation spot among the defensive ends currently playing for the Panthers.
The Panthers have cleared more than $7 million in cap space via recent restructurings. More could be coming. Per a league source, however, the Panthers have not yet approached Johnson about reducing his cap number of $16.26 million for 2014.