A long-term deal between All-Pro defensive end Greg Hardy and the Panthers is unlikely to materialize before tomorrow afternoon’s deadline, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network (via Twitter). Like Jimmy Graham, Hardy must reach a multiyear agreement with his team by tomorrow, or play the 2014 season on a one-year deal. Unlike Graham, Hardy has already signed his franchise tender, so playing on that one-year contract has appeared to be the likely scenario for some time.
The team’s lack of interest in pursuing a long-term deal with Hardy has two main causes. The first is the Panthers’ capability to absorb Hardy’s large $13.1MM franchise tag cap hit given their their existing payroll. The second is a pending domestic violence lawsuit between Hardy and his ex-girlfriend, the trial for which is also set to occur tomorrow afternoon. Upon his arrest in May, Hardy surrendered 10 guns. The former Ole Miss Black Bear has refused to give any interviews since the arrest.
The Panthers and NFL have stated that they will wait until the legal process has taken its course before deciding on any possible punishment for Hardy. The former sixth-round pick recorded 15 sacks last season, a tie for the single Panthers’ franchise record and more than Julius Peppers ever had in one season. Hardy’s potential absence would deal a large blow to Carolina’s defense heading into the 2014 season.