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Clearing Up Greg Hardy’s Complicated Tuesday

T uesday could help clear up two major questions surrounding Greg Hardy. One will come and go as a mere Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 2.31.29 PMformality. The other may have more severe implications.The Panthers have an afternoon deadline to give the defensive end a long-term deal, but his morning court appearance is the real concern.Hardy is scheduled to begin a bench trial stemming from his May arrest. He is facing charges from his ex-girlfriend of communicating threats and assaulting a female. If convicted of the latter charge, he could face up to 60 days in jail. Even if he’s eventually found not guilty, or if the case is dismissed, Hardy could be punished by the Panthers or the NFL.Tuesday may bring complete, some or no clarification of his legal status. Answers regarding his contract, the day’s other matter, were determined months ago.The deadline for the Panthers to give Hardy, their franchise player, a long-term contract is 4 p.m. The team has no plans to do that, and they didn’t before his arrest. As we’ve been reporting for months, their considerations for such a commitment have never gone very far.Hardy’s stock skyrocketed after he racked up 26 sacks the last two seasons. His 15 sacks last year tied a franchise record. But seven of those came in the Panthers’ final two regular season games when Hardy went up against Saints’ rookie Terron Armstead and Atlanta’s sieve-like offensive line.That’s not to discredit Hardy’s season or talent. Sacks are arguably football’s most overrated defensive stat, so he may have been just as or more disruptive in games when his sack totals weren’t as impressive.There’s no question the 25-year-old would have landed a huge deal if he hit the open market this offseason. At least one team would have thought he was worth it. That team just isn’t the Panthers yet, and it may never be.First, they’ve been concerned about his off-field behavior for years. Those worries likely never rose to the level of legal charges he’s currently facing, but Hardy can be unstable. If you’re going to give piles of money to someone, it’s a good idea to be completely comfortable it’s the right decision.Also, Charles Johnson’s enormous deal goes through 2016, and the Panthers have more than 20 percent of their salary cap going to defensive ends this season. Committing that much to the position is unsustainable, especially considering what it will soon cost to lock up quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly.While Newton’s the franchise’s most important player, rebuilding the offense around him is a multi-year project. The defense will ultimately determine if the Panthers can make another playoff push.[vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html]Of course, if he didn’t franchise Hardy, general manager Dave Gettleman could have had more than $13 million to spend on free agents to help at more pressing positions. But keeping Hardy on the roster for 2014 gives the Panthers their best shot at making a run at their first ever consecutive winning season.There’s a chance ‘renting’ Hardy for 2014 could blow up on the Panthers like it did in 2009 when they brought back Julius Peppers for one more season. Johnson and Everette Brown were waiting in the wings, but Brown’s failure to grow into the player the team thought he could be doomed the project.The Panthers are doing something similar this season. They can be somewhat patient with second-round pick Kony Ealy, and they showed faith in Mario Addison with a two-year extension last month.To be clear, Hardy could still return to Carolina in 2015. If he has an unproductive season, or if he’s injured, a long-term deal could be more affordable. In that case, the Panthers could bite the bullet on the cap hit they’d take by releasing the older Johnson, or they could finagle a way to keep both their elite ends.So what we don’t know is where Hardy will be after 2014. There’s a whole season to play before that’s hashed out.We do know he’ll play this year under the Panthers’ franchise tag. That becomes official Tuesday afternoon.Before that, more important unanswered questions will be asked at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

BBR NUGGETS

  • Tough crowd. According to Elliot Harrison, the defending NFL Coach of the Year isn’t a top-20 coach. — NFL.com
  • The Panthers defense gets a more favorable rating here. — The Sporting News
  • Evan Silva ranks all 32 teams. The last two sentences of his Panthers’ offensive and defensive overviews are worth highlighting. — Rotoworld
  • Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, whose son went to UCLA with Nate Chandler, raves about the converted defensive lineman. — ESPN.com
  • Who’s Dale Moss? — Twitter

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6 thoughts on “Clearing Up Greg Hardy’s Complicated Tuesday”

  1. AnthonyFKelly I would say no.  It wouldn’t fit in with Gettleman’s plan, nor would it work with our salary cap situation.  Ultimately, we’re not ready for that kind of player.  We need to solidify our base and straighten out our cap, then we can shoot for the stars.

  2. I agree some of the best moves is when you do nothing and when you pass on someone that can upset the locker room and with this young team we need positive roll models for them. I believe in Mr G and his plan !

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