The Carolina Panthers have had a history of negotiating contracts with superstar defensive ends, and they have more fond memories of working with current star left end Charles Johnson than they did with previous franchise icon Julius Peppers, who played on two franchise tags before leaving for the Chicago Bears. Johnson, on the other hand, received a mega contract in the lockout-shortened offseason after a monster campaign.
Well, the Panthers have another star DE hitting the free agent market this offseason, but it looks like re-signing Greg Hardy won’t be difficult. Not only as he stated interest in giving the playoff-bye Panthers a hometown discount, but the Associated Press’s Steve Reed reports that Hardy stated he’s fine with the Panthers franchising him this offseason.
Hardy is one of the best all-around defensive ends in the NFL, because he has the ability to dominate as a pass rusher and in the running game. It’s difficult to find two-way threats at 4-3 DE, but that’s exactly what Hardy brings to the table. While Johnson is a better pass rusher due to his ability to put pressure on the QB at a ridiculous rate, Hardy brings more to the table as a run defender and also does a better job of finishing off plays. Another thing to keep in mind is that Hardy draws more difficult assignments than Johnson, since Hardy has to do his work against left tackles.
It will be interesting to see how contract negotiations go between the Panthers and Hardy, and it would be a huge shock to see Hardy playing for a different team, based on the early rhetoric from both sides. With 26 combined sacks in his past two seasons, Hardy has all the numbers and will be paid handsomely, even if he gives the Panthers a hometown discount. He’s also just 25, which is all you need to know about his chances of getting a very long-term deal.