The Panthers used their franchise tag on Greg Hardy last offseason, which paid him $13.1 million on a one-year deal. Due to the legal troubles off the field, Hardy played only game for Carolina last year before being placed on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt list. This means that on March 10th he is expected to become a free agent and able to sign with any NFL team.
However, teams may be hesitant to commit to Hardy, especially with a big contract, considering he could still face discipline from the NFL. Under the league’s new NFL Personal Conduct Policy it states that a player will stay on the Commissioner Exempt list until “the completion of the NFL investigation or disposition of a criminal charge”.
After this step, the NFL will decide on disciplinary action. It states under the policy:
“Depending on the nature of the violation and the person’s record, discipline may be a fine, suspension, community service, or a combination of the three. Violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence of sexual assault will result in a baseline six-game suspension without pay.”
Hardy will have a chance to appeal whatever decision the NFL makes in front of an NFL Expert Panel, a review panel of three outside experts. A final decision will be made at this point.
Due to the uncertainty of what the punishment from the NFL may be, teams may not be willing to make serious offers to Hardy right away. Once a decision is made though, there could be a line of teams looking to sign the defensive end. There are not many pass rushers who is as physically gifted as Hardy and in the prime of their career at the age of 26.
One team that won’t be in line will be the Carolina Panthers, according to ESPN’s David Newton. He wrote after the charges were dismissed, “that the Panthers are not expected to pursue Hardy once he becomes an unrestricted free agent March 10.”
It certainly seems that no matter what the outcome of this trial was, the Carolina Panthers have decided to move on Hardy and will look else were for pass rushers.