Free agency opens today... kind of. Monday is the first day teams can use the franchise tag on players, which lasts until Mar. 3. It's unclear what the Panthers will do in free agency, but NFL.com believes applying the franchise tag to defensive end Greg Hardy is a "no brainer."
Hardy is the team's top concern this offseason with the ideal situation being a long-term extension that makes sense for both sides. It's unclear if that's viable however, with the young defensive end understandably wanting to maximize his value on the market while the Panthers look to keep him in the fold.
This is why the franchise tag makes so much sense. It's an even way to ensure the Panthers keep their star for one more year to free up more money and come to a final determination on what a fair figure is. Giving a player a mammoth contract after one breakout year is always risky, especially when there's no need for risk.
Keep an eye on CSR today. We'll have news on Hardy's franchise tag, should Carolina use it today.