Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer writes that Panthers impending free agent DE Greg Hardy will be targeting a deal that would surpass the six-year, $78 million contract Panthers signed Charles Johnson to a few years ago.
Hardy has previously mentioned that he’s looking for a “crapload of money,” and given that he is set to be one of the best available players at a premium position, there is definitely a chance he could best Johnson’s contract on the open market.
The Panthers reportedly haven’t been in contact with any of their free agents up to this point, although that could change at the Scouting Combine next week. Carolina does have some cap space to work with, but they will also need some additional room to lock up QB Cam Newton who is entering the final year of his contract and can begin negotiating a long-term deal in the coming weeks.
It appears unlikely that the Panthers can afford to retain Hardy with their franchise tag as it would cost them $12.5 million fully guaranteed next season.
Hardy, 25, totaled 59 tackles, 15 sacks, and a forced fumble for the Panthers last season. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 3 defensive end in a 4-3 system.
We have Hardy listed as the No. 2 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.