Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has signed his franchise tender, guaranteeing his $13.1 million salary for this season, a league source said Tuesday.
The move means Hardy can not sign an offer sheet with another team and gives the Panthers incentive to get a long-term deal done with Hardy for salary-cap purposes.
The Panthers continue to negotiate a multiyear deal with Hardy, although it's unclear how close the two sides are.
With Hardy signing the tender and the Panthers signing kicker Graham Gano to a four-year, $12 million deal last week, the Panthers now are about $6 million below the $133 million salary cap.
Hardy and defensive end Charles Johnson now account for more than $29 million of the team's salary cap.
A long-term deal for Hardy would supersede the franchise tender.
Hardy, 25, went to his first Pro Bowl in January after tying the Kevin Greene's franchise record with 15 sacks.