Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) on the field prior to the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Is Panthers' DE Greg Hardy a Realistic Option for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers This Offseason?

During his introductory press conference with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, new defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier sang the praises of adding an impact pass rusher to help run the kind of defense he and Lovie Smith hope to run in Tampa Bay.

And while the top of the 2014 NFL Draft offers plenty of options in the pass rush department, the free agent market has a potential grand prize at defensive end: Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers.

Hardy was a significant factor in a Carolina defense that dominated the NFL this season, joining the 49ers and Seahawks as elite NFC defenses capable of shutting down any offense.

Over his last two seasons, Hardy has 26 sacks, three passes defended and three fumbles forced from his defensive end position. No Buccaneer can compare to those numbers, and even combining the last two Buccaneer sack leaders (Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy) falls short of Hardy’s production.

But will the Panthers’ sack master hit the open market? According to NFL.com, it’s a yes and a no.

The Panthers’ salary cap is in a bad place, and the GM admitted that openly when talking about Greg Hardy. The franchise tag is always an option, but it would cost an awful lot for a defensive end, and the Panthers would need to make some moves to free up the space to fill out their roster.

But Hardy has made no mistake that he wants to return to Carolina, and even said it would be an honor to be franchise tagged, rather than being upset by it like most stars usually are.

There’s no doubt that Hardy would be an incredible addition to the Tampa Bay defense, and it would be made even better by taking him from a division rival. But the Panthers will likely do everything they can to get Hardy back, and even if he hits the open market, there’s no promises that he comes to Tampa.

So it’s possible that “The Kraken” may dwell in Tampa Bay next season, but I wouldn’t call it a realistic chance.

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  • Bryant Douglass

    Living in Raleigh and listening to local sports radio, very few are optimistic he returns to Carolina because of the money! Newton is their priority so Tampa could play into this if they make a good offer!

    • Reinald Vallejo

      They are still being slow about giving Scam Newton a deal, but I do think Hardy will end up being cut lose and of course they should grab him. Is Revis worth all the money they are paying him? I say trade Revis for an early 2nd or late first at the least, draft Eric Ebron with that pick, and call it a day.

      • Jayson Kaplan

        How isn’t Revis worth the money? It’s not worth it to entirely remove an opponent’s best WR from the game? Even at less than 100% this season, he still proved he’s the best CB in the NFL (when not being wasted in off coverage).

        Even if I agreed the Bucs would be better suited to get rid of him, to trade him for a 2nd rounder to draft a TE doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either. You really don’t think he has more value than a single 2nd round pick? We gave up two first rounders to get him BEFORE he proved he could play on the repaired ACL. If anything, he’s worth MORE now.

        • Steve Batchelor

          We only gave up the 1 first rounder from last year and a 3rd rounder this year to get Revis but I agree with you that giving him up for anything less than 2 first rounders would be stupid. I don’t care who we could get really because even if it was 3 players they wouldn’t be able to make the difference that Darelle makes. I know it seems like a lot of money for a CB but he is the best and if and when it starts to impact out cap space then we can just cut him but I don’t see that happening for at least until 2016.

      • Greg Gorman

        As far as Revis goes, I think the Bucs should try to swing a deal with him now that he is healthy, that Tampa is the place to be for Defense. Move his deal from 4 individual 1 year contracts as its setup now, and see if he will restructure

        Get him to take a more team friendly 11-12 million and give him guaranteed money over that 4 years. Use some of that savings to resign GMC to a long term contract. Dump a bunch of underachievers to free up more cap space to work on a deal with Hardy. The deal Cinncy worked out with Dunlap seems to be a good comparison for Hardy.

        I would rather see McCluster as slot receiver/returner over Hester, unless they could make a play for Edleman as slot receiver/punt returner for around what Welker got in Denver.

        • LeoTPP

          I don’t think Gerald McCoy is going to command much of a raise on his extension. He’s already worth something along the lines of 15 mil against the cap at the end of his rookie deal.

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  • Jayson Kaplan

    I would so much rather see Hardy here than Jared Allen.

    • Steve Batchelor

      I see your point on Hardy just if nothing else his age but I would rather get Jared Allen. He isn’t going to command as much money because of his age. Yes he had a little down year last year but he didn’t have Kevin Williams due to injury so interiors blockers were able to help out on Allen. Frazier knows Allen better than anyone seeing as how he has coached Allen his whole career either as DC or HC. I think for that reason alone he would be a better fit plus he has that rough and tumble attitude which I think our defense needs a little of. With him playing next to GMC I can see Allen getting 15 sacks especially with Darelle locking down one side and Peanut Tillman locking down the other.

      • Jayson Kaplan

        Don’t get me wrong, if Allen were a Buc in 2014 it wouldn’t exactly upset me, I’d just prefer Hardy if that were a possibility. That said, I don’t see Carolina letting him get away, certainly not within the division so Allen seems a more realistic option. I’m not sure I see the need to spend the money on Tillman though. I have plenty of faith in Banks from the development he showed within his first season. With a DC like Frazier and more time with #24 to mentor him, he could be our solid #2 for a long time to come.

        • Steve Batchelor

          I’m not really sold on Banks…He seemed to do alright in his first year at probably the hardest position to play besides QB especially considering he got so much attention with Darelle on the other side…but..The problem I see is that he is going to be in a different scheme so whatever he learned last year isn’t going to help him much. Tillman won’t cost that much, he’ll be 33 going into next season and knows the scheme inside and out….Besides we need a third CB….Whatever happens I know that with Lovie and Leslie in charge of the D there shouldn’t be a problem.

  • victorbarney

    It’s coming together Tampa Bay fans, I just know it…