The Panthers will land the No. 2 overall seed -- and an NFC South title -- if they win their remaining two games, beginning Sunday against the Saints. Their success is in large part to a defensive line that features Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, one of the best one-two defensive end punches in the league.
If it's up to Hardy (a.k.a. The Kraken), the dynamic duo will stick together. Hardy's a free agent after 2013 but told the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person on Wednesday he'd be willing to "take a small cut" to stick around in Charlotte.
"I'll take some cut for the city. I still want what I deserve or what I feel (is) close to what I deserve,” Hardy said. “But I'll definitely take a small cut for the city."
Couple of questions here. First up, what's he willing to take a cut from? Because if it's Charles Johnson money, well, that's not a cut off much.
"I ain't going to put no number on it. I just know I've been here for close to minimum for a long time,” Hardy said. "The one thing that holds consistent is -- there's always going to be ups and downs in deals – but good players are going to get paid. Or good players with good agents."
Hardy, 25, a sixth-round pick out of Mississippi in the 2010 NFL Draft (and a tremendous, tremendous find for oft-blamed ex-GM Marty Hurney), is repped by Drew Rosenhaus, who didn't offer a statement to the Observer based on Hardy's comment.
But Hardy reiterated that he likes
"I'm the man here, so I have no reason to want to leave,” he said. “Perfect position, winning team, I get creative freedom sometimes on the field when it's my game."
It would be a stunner, frankly, if the Panthers didn't do whatever was necessary to keep Hardy. The franchise tag is available after this season. It'll probably be pretty expensive but it gives them substantial negotiating time.
If Hardy's willing to take a lower price it stands to reason the two sides could work out a deal.