With two weeks left in the regular season, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy said he still hasn’t heard much from the team’s front office about a contract extension.
He said Wednesday he’d be willing to give the Panthers a hometown discount to stay 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.”
Hardy, making $1.35 million in the final year of his four-year rookie contract, is second on the team behind end Charles Johnson with eight sacks. Hardy also has 33 quarterback pressures – nearly twice as many as Johnson, who missed two games with a sprained knee.
Johnson signed a six-year, $76 million deal in 2011 that was the richest in team history, but the free agent market has cooled since then.
Defensive end/outside linebacker Paul Kruger received a five-year, $40 million deal from the Cleveland Browns last offseason. He has 4.5 sacks in 14 games this season.
“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,” said Hardy, a sixth-round pick from Mississippi in 2010. “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.”
Drew Rosenhaus, Hardy’s agent, has declined to comment on the negotiations with the Panthers.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has said he does not discuss contract talks.
Hardy, 25, is a three-year starter who had a breakthrough season in 2012, when he had 11 sacks and teamed with Johnson to form one of the league’s best sack tandems. Hardy needs two more sacks this season to become the fifth player in team history with multiple seasons of 10 or more.
Hardy is a colorful player who wears colored contacts on game day and refers to himself as the Kraken, a mythological sea creature. He has also had a couple of off-the-field incidents, including a motorcycle wreck in 2011 that left him with severe abrasions on his foot.
Hardy, who grew up in Memphis, said Charlotte has become his home. His parents and siblings now live in the area.
He said he also likes his role with the Panthers.
“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.”
Hardy has never lacked for confidence. He reminded reporters how he blocked a punt that resulted in a safety and forced a fumble in his first NFL game, against the Giants on Sept. 12, 2010.
As he put it, “I’ve been being me for a long time.”