When Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy pounced on his one-year, $13.1 million franchise tender, he left open the possibility of staying away from voluntary offseason workouts for leverage in talks toward a long-term deal.
He won’t be staying away, and the Panthers have given him $1.3 million reasons to show up.
Per a league source, the Panthers and Hardy have agreed to formula pursuant to which Hardy can earn an advance of $1.3 million by showing up for the full offseason program. Hardy will get paid by the week throughout the offseason program.
Absent such an arrangement, Hardy wouldn’t have gotten any of his $13.1 million until September. So he can make roughly 10 percent of his 2014 salary now, simply by doing that which he already had an incentive to do — prepare to have a monster season in advance of hitting the market. (Unless, of course, the Panthers choose to tag him again in 2015, at $15.72 million.)
For a guy who completed a slotted sixth-round contract, $1.3 million matches the most he has made in any of his four NFL seasons.
It’s technically a restructuring of Hardy’s contract. A second restructuring will be permitted only if the cap number goes down or stays the same, which won’t be an issued if/when a long-term deal is negotiated. Typically, franchise players see their cap numbers drop when a long-term deal is signed, thanks to the proration of signing bonus money.
Hardy and the Panthers have until July 15 to strike a long-term contract. Otherwise, he will play in 2014 under the one-year franchise tender.
The deal makes plenty of sense. The Panthers will have him present for the offseason program, Hardy will be preparing for the season, he’ll get a nice chunk of money now in order to do so, and he’s ultimately protected against any injury that could happen in the offseason because his full $13.1 million salary is guaranteed.