The Carolina Panthers selected former Missouri standout Kony Ealy in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft as a potential insurance policy in case they weren’t able to retain Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy long term. That possibility seems to be getting closer with a major extension deadline looming today.
Per source, a long-term deal between the Panthers and franchise-tagged DE Greg Hardy is unlikely before tomorrow's deadline.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 14, 2014
If Hardy doesn’t agree to a long-term extension prior to the deadline, the Panthers are not able to sign him to a new contract until after the 2014 season. A Pro Bowl performer last year, Hardy has racked up a 26 sacks over the course of the last two seasons. Carolina slapped Hardy with the franchise tag earlier this season. He quickly signed the tender and will earn over $13 million in 2014 barring a last-minute extension.
Why is this so important?
In addition to being in a less-than stellar salary cap situation, Carolina will have to focus on a long-term contract for franchise quarterback Cam Newton next offseason. Simply put, it might not have the ability to even place the franchise tag on Hardy, which would make him a highly sought-after free agent prize.
Photo: USA Today