Citing multiple team sources, The Charlotte Observer reported Saturday that the Panthers are not expected to bring back Hardy following a season in which the Pro Bowl defensive end sat out 15 games while on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission List. Hardy landed on the seldom-used list following a domestic violence arrest for an incident that occurred last May.
Hardy's jury trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges is scheduled to begin Monday. If found guilty, he'll likely face a six-game suspension under the league's updated personal conduct policy.
Prior to his legal troubles, Hardy had emerged as one of the best young pass-rushers in football. In 2013, he finished third in the league with 15 sacks. His ability, and prime age of 26, makes him an interesting free agency case in a post-Ray Rice NFL.
After paying Hardy more than $13 million for virtually nothing last season, the Panthers appear to have washed their hands of Hardy. Expect other teams to be eager to add a young, star pass-rusher to the mix.