Sources tell Cole that Hardy is expected to receive either a one- or two-game suspension from the league for his involvement in a domestic violence incident that was eventually settled out of court.
The expectation is that Hardy will be allowed to sign with a new team at some point in time.
By accepting a suspension from the NFL, Cole mentions that Hardy will have essentially exonerated himself of any wrong doing in this case.
Given that a suspension could be coming for Hardy, Cole anticipates that this will have an impact on the length of contract Hardy will ultimately sign, as well as the guaranteed money included in his next deal.
Cole says that Hardy is still seen as a “highly valuable” commodity and could get as much as $25-$30 million guaranteed in free agency.
Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report spoke to an NFL GM earlier in the week who told him that there are “at least” six teams interested in Hardy.
However, there hasn’t been a lot of buzz about who these teams could be. The 49ers came up a potential option, team GM Trent Baalke shot that down on Wednesday.
Hardy, 26, wound up appearing in just one game and recorded four tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble before he was placed on the commissioners expect list.
Last year, the Panthers used their franchise tag on the defensive end, which paid him a salary of $13.116 million for the 2014 season. However, all indications are that Carolina has moved on and he won’t be back with the team.
We have Hardy listed as the No. 5 player in our Top 100 Free Agents list.