The 4:00 PM deadline for signing franchise tagged players to long term deals has come and gone without Greg Hardy signing a new contract.
This is not a surprise given that the Panthers are still cap-challenged and that Hardy is facing legal issues with ramifications to follow. Greg Hardy was in court today as a result of his May arrest for domestic violence but regardless of what happened there today, there is still uncertainty about what is to come.
The circumstances of Hardy’s altercation a couple months ago involved a lot of “he said, she said” but that makes no difference. Despite whatever happened in court, Hardy may still face suspension from the league. The Panthers and league both have been waiting for the situation to be resolved before taking action.
Whether the punishment imposed is a suspension or simply a fine has yet to be determined but with that uncertainty looming above there was no real reason to think the Panthers would sign Hardy for the long term at this time.
Nevertheless having signed the franchise tender this offseason Greg Hardy will be a Carolina Panther in 2014. The fact that he hasn’t signed a long term contract is a good thing for the Panthers for two reasons.
1. Greg Hardy will be on his best behavior this season in order to prove himself.
The Panthers drafted Hardy in the sixth round in 2010. He did not fall that far in the draft for any lack of talent. There were character concerns that led teams to pass him over and allowed him to fall so far in the draft. Those character concerns were brought back into the limelight after his arrest in May. They will give the Panthers, as well as any other team in the league, a pause before considering signing him to the big deal he has earned with his play.
The Kraken has played at a level deserving one of the large contracts rewarded to top level defensive ends but he now finds himself in a position where he needs to prove himself worthy of it. We can expect those dollar signs to glimmer in his eyes before he makes any poor decision in his personal life this season.
2. Hardy will have to perform at a high level to get the contract he desires.
In the NFL it’s all about “what have you done for me lately”. Nobody gets a large contract based on what they did two years ago but by what they accomplished in the prior season. Hardy had a stellar 2013 but that will matter little if he hits the open market next year with less to show from 2014. In order to get what he wants he will have to match or even exceed what he accomplished in 2013.
For this reason alone we can expect the highest level of effort from our mythological beast of the sea. Money is the greatest incentive in the game and Hardy will work harder than ever, in order to get it.
Whether he faces suspension for his troubles will be determined in time but one thing is for sure. When he does hit the field this season he will have something to prove for both personal and financial reasons. That motivation will push him to achieve at the highest possible level and gives us a lot to look forward to this coming season.
The future of his career will remain uncertain for the time being but Panther fans can expect the Kraken to wreak havoc on opposing offenses in 2014. We hope he plays well enough to make the Panthers forget about what happened in May and trust him for the long term. Only time will tell at this point, but we can be sure that he is properly motivated to make it happen.
Playing under the franchise tag will make Hardy ineligible for signing a new contract until the 2014 season ends. At that time the Panthers can franchise tag him for a second consecutive year (very unlikely) or sign him to a long term deal (possible at least). If neither is done he will hit the open market and most likely go to the highest bidder.