It's no surprise Hardy signed. Unlike other players who are slapped with the tag, the 25-year-old defensive end said he would have no problem with the designation. This made proceedings quick and painless, essentially setting up a win-win situation for Hardy. He can sit back and entertain the Panthers' offers or wait for free agency in 2015, all while collecting more money in a year than he made the previous four on his rookie contract.
Carolina still hope to find a way to retain Hardy with a long-term deal, made easier with reported huge jumps to the salary cap over the next three seasons. It's never been a matter of whether the Panthers could afford Hardy, but whether their cap ratios should dictate them sinking so much money into one position. There's a very real situation where the team is sinking over 30-percent of their yearly cap into three players: Charles Johnson, Cam Newton and Hardy -- that's a tough pill to swallow.
For now we can enjoy confirmation that there's no friction in the front office and hopefully that indicates long-term negotiations are going well also.