The Panthers officially announced their decision to use the franchise tag on defensive end Greg Hardy, and made it clear what it really bought them was time.
“The franchise mechanism gives us time to secure the services of a very good player while we continue to look at the future of Greg with the Carolina Panthers,” General Manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement released by the team. “We have had great dialogue with both Greg and his agent. It was important to keep our defensive front together.”
In keeping that front together, they’re committing a load of money to it.
With Charles Johnson set to count more than $16 million against the cap, and Hardy hitting a one-year charge of around $13 million, the Panthers will have more than a fifth of this year’s cap tied up in a pair of players, neither of whom throw passes.
That creates a bit of a bind for the Panthers moving forward, as they still have 18 unrestricted free agents set to hit the market on March 11.
Many of those guys were there on one-year deals anyway, but that’s about all the Panthers can offer until they get some relief in the form of a restructuring of Johnson or either a long-term deal or a trade for Hardy.
The two defensive ends have combined for 49.5 sacks the last two seasons, tied for the most by a tandem in the league over that span.
They also chew up a huge portion of the Panthers salary cap, until the Panthers figure out a way to change those numbers.