Hardy, 24, is entering the final year of his rookie, so it makes sense that he would be seeking an extension at this point, especially when you consider that he’s coming off of a breakout season that included a career high 11 sacks.
He will make $1.35 million for the 2013 season, but the Panthers are in no position to offer him a long-term contract. Carolina’s financial situation is so bad that they’re already highly-leveraged for next season.
It seems likely that they won’t be able to get Hardy signed before he’s an unrestricted free agent next year. They’ll still need to figure out a way to create some much needed cap space in order to even consider applying the franchise tag to him next offseason. Hardy should have a very competitive market next year, assuming that he doesn’t suffer a serious injury or significant drop off in terms of his productivity.