Typically, players coming off of an incredible season are hoping to maximize their position by securing a long-term contract, but it appears as though Hardy believes things will work out in time.
Applying the franchise tag to Hardy would likely run the Panthers close to $12.6 million fully guaranteed next season. Carolina should have close to $19 million in available cap space to work with next season, but a long-term deal could cost them north of $70 million and $40 million guaranteed.
Hardy, 25, has contributed a very impressive 26 sacks to the Panthers defense in the past two seasons. He is a part of arguably the best defensive end tandem in the league that also includes Charles Johnson.
Pro Football Focus has Hardy rated as the No. 6 4-3 defensive end in 2013. We have him listed as the No. 2 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.