We don’t know at the moment whether Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will or won’t be suspended.
And we can’t know until at least the March 10 start of free agency to know where he’ll play, whenever he’s eligible.
But it seems we know where he won’t be playing next season.
According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers are out of the running for last year’s franchise player, deciding to let him walk into the market, and willing to simply accept whatever 2016 compensatory pick comes their way.
While a number of players went to bat for Hardy with management after his domestic violence case was thrown out to create a glimmer of hope, “that slim possibility quickly cooled and eventually ended last week.”
It’s unclear what, if anything, happened within the last seven days to erase the last shred of hope that he’d return. But you could see the writing on the wall at the Scouting Combine, when General Manager Dave Gettleman was discussing the importance of evaluating character and said “Who wants a ticking time bomb?”
The Panthers were already wary of him, unwilling to invest in a long-term deal last year. Then their $13.1-million franchise tag gamble backfired, when he played one game and spent the rest of the year on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Hardy’s lately been retweeting fans begging the team to bring him back, but it seems like he’s going to have to find another fanbase to do his passive-aggressive online panhandling for him.
If this was just a football decision, he’d be one of the most sought-after players in the market. He’s still 26, and had 15.0 sacks the last time he played a full season.
Teams such as the Falcons, Buccaneers, Bengals, Raiders and Jaguars have the means and needs to pursue him, but his market will be fascinating to watch since no one’s sure when or whether Roger Goodell will rule on his status.