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Panthers Begin Extension Talks With Greg Hardy

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DE Greg Hardy had a breakthrough 2012 campaign and could be in for a big payday. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.
DE Greg Hardy had a breakthrough 2012 campaign and could be in for a big payday. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.

The Panthers have reportedly begun negotiations with DE Greg Hardy and his representatives in the hopes of getting a long-term deal done prior to the start of the season. 

Hardy’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, initially attempted to negotiate a new deal for his client during the spring, but new GM Dave Gettleman inherited a messy cap situation and was in no position to offer Hardy a new deal. Since then, Gettleman has managed to turn a roster that was $16 million over the cap into a roster that is $12 million under it.

The 25 year old Hardy — a sixth-round pick in 2010 — had a breakout season in 2012, posting 61 total tackles with 11 sacks. This after racking up 80 total tackles and seven sacks combined through his first two seasons.

There are both encouraging and discouraging signs for Hardy regarding the specifics of a possible long-term extension. On the one hand, the Panthers gave Hardy’s partner-in-crime Charles Johnson a six-year, $76 million deal in 2011 with $32 million guaranteed. On the other hand, there was a decisively soft market for free agent defensive ends during this past offseason. 

If the Panthers fail to reach a deal with Hardy, they have the option to slap the franchise tag on him next season — this past year it cost teams $11.2 million if they decided to go this route. Another restriction and concern for the Panthers front office in making any contract decisions is the need to lock up franchise QB Cam Newton to a new deal in the near future. The team can’t negotiate with Newton until after the season, and barring a catastrophic meltdown, he will be in line for a big payday.