Updates from Tuesday, March 4
NBC's Pro Football Talk reports financial details after Greg Hardy has signed his franchise tender:
Albert Breer of NFL Network later confirmed and reported additional details surrounding contract negotiations between Hardy and the Panthers:
The Carolina Panthers don't want to risk losing one of the most dominant members of their excellent defense, so they will place the franchise tag on free-agent defensive end Hardy, per the team's Twitter:
Pro Football Talk first reported the news:
In 2013, Hardy led the Panthers in sacks with 15 and finished third in the NFL in that category behind the Indianapolis Colts' Robert Mathis and St. Louis Rams' Robert Quinn.
Hardy is just 25 years old and has already accumulated 33 sacks in his four-year career. He has 26 over the last two seasons.
The Panthers know the value of keeping a young player who has already proven he can produce at a high level in the NFL.
With the tag, the team will pay Hardy an average of the top five players at his position. Per Breer, that amount figures to be near $13 million.
Unlike some players, Hardy has said he welcomes the tag. He wants to remain in Carolina for the long haul, and the $13 million is obviously nothing to sneeze at.
Per David Newton of ESPN.com, Hardy addressed the franchise tag Wednesday before the Panthers officially made the decision:
I would love a franchise, man. Add another year on my career. Get to play football a little bit longer without a contract. Another year to be in Carolina just to get them a chance to get their fiscal responsibilities in order so we can be here forever, like Steve (Smith) and a lot of other guys.
It appears both sides have gotten their wish. The Panthers keep one of the most dominant young pass-rushers in the league in the fold, and Hardy stays where he's comfortable in Carolina.
All is good, at least until next season, when the Panthers must make a decision on Hardy's long-term future again.