Hardy was given a non-exclusive franchise tag, meaning a willing team could sign him to a contract and give the Panthers two first round picks in compensation. The Panthers also retain the option to match the offer and keep their player.
It's a sensible move for a player the team is unsure will remain with the organization long-term. Nobody is going to realistically sign Hardy and pay the two first round picks, but it allows for leverage in negotiation where Drew Rosenhaus can gauge the market and everyone has a better idea of where Hardy stands if/when he hits free agency.
Hardy is second player to receive a non-exclusive tag in the NFC South along with Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. The goal will be to retain the 25-year-old pass rusher through a long-term deal, but it's unclear if that is a possibility given the big money he will command.