CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Carolina Panthers announced Friday that they have applied the franchise tag to defensive end Greg Hardy.
Hardy, entering his fifth NFL season, led the Panthers in sacks last season with 15.
“We are very pleased that Greg will be back with the Panthers next season,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “He was a big reason we were able to lead the league in sacks last year and keeps our defensive line intact.”
In 2013, Hardy was selected to his first career Pro Bowl and earned Associated Press All-Pro second team honors after ranking third in the NFL and tying the team record with 15 sacks, previously accomplished by Kevin Greene in 1998. Hardy led the Panthers with 38 quarterback pressures and posted a career-high 67 tackles as part of a unit that ranked second in the NFL in total defense and points allowed and led the league in sacks.
Hardy is the fifth player in Panthers history to receive the franchise tag, joining punter Todd Sauerbrun (2003), tackle Jordan Gross (2008), defensive end Julius Peppers (2009) and center Ryan Kalil (2011).
“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,” said general manager Dave Gettleman. “We have had great dialogue with both Greg and his agent. It was important to keep our defensive front together.”
Panthers long-time offensive tackle Jordan Gross announced his retirement earlier this week. Check out complete coverage from his emotional speech here.