The Panthers announced they have applied the franchise tag to Greg Hardy, preventing the defensive end from hitting the free agent market.

Hardy will make $12.45 million next season.

Earlier Friday, the team said it re-signed kicker Graham Gano to a four-year contract. Financial terms of that deal were not released.

Hardy, entering his fifth NFL season, tied a franchise single-season record with 15 sacks in 2013 and was selected second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera says in a release he's pleased to have Hardy back, adding "he was a big reason we were able to lead the league in sacks last year and he keeps our defensive line intact."

Hardy led the Panthers with 38 quarterback pressures and posted a career-high 67 tackles last season.


AP NFL website: and