Key defensive player locked up in the NFL.
He asked for it and he got it.
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has been placed with the franchise tag for the NFL team that will him stay with the team for at least another year.
The deal for the 2014-15 season will see him earn between $12,455,000 and $12,623,000 this season, as Hardy continues to make his claim for arguably the most important player on the Panthers team, much less their defensive unit.
The franchise label gives the Carolina front-office extra breathing space to speak to Hardy and his team about a longer and more lucrative contract beyond next season.
It will also force teams interested in acquiring the 25-year-old after his impressive season with the Panthers, with 15 sacks coming this past year.
He has 26 sacks over the past two seasons after having only seven in his first two seasons.
A sixth-round draft pick in 2010, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound player who often refers to himself as “The Kraken” said several times late in the season that he wanted to return to Carolina. He at one point said he would give the Panthers a “hometown” discount if it was within reason of what other teams might offer.
The Panthers couldn’t come up with that and had to find a way to keep one of their most versatile linemen, one who could play end, tackle and drop into coverage.
Coach Ron Rivera said repeatedly after the season ended that he wanted Hardy back and that he was an important part of what the league’s No. 2-ranked defense did.