Football

AP Source: Panthers Hardy signs franchise tender

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Defensive end Greg Hardy has signed his franchise tag tender with the Carolina Panthers, a person familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the signing has not been made official. Hardy, who said in January he'd have no issue if the team used the franchise tag to keep him, will make $13.1 million for one season if he doesn't sign a long-term extension.

The Panthers have until July 15 to sign Hardy to a long-term deal. After that date they can't discuss a contract extension until after the season is over. When the Panthers used the franchise tag on Hardy Friday, general manager Dave Gettleman said in a press release it was done so to buy more time to potentially work out a long-term extension with the former Mississippi star.

"The franchise mechanism gives us time to secure the services of a very good player while we continue to look at the future of Greg with the Carolina Panthers," Gettleman said. "We have had great dialogue with both Greg and his agent. It was important to keep our defensive front together."

The four-year NFL veteran had 15 sacks last season, tying a franchise record previously established by Kevin Greene in 1996, and was selected to his first Pro Bowl. Hardy has 26 sacks in his last two seasons.

Hardy led the Panthers with 38 quarterback pressures last season and posted a career-high 67 tackles for the NFC South champions. The Panthers led the league in sacks last season with 60. Gettleman said Hardy was "a big reason we were able to lead the league in sacks last year and keeps our defensive line intact."

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL.

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