NFL: Panthers DE Greg Hardy eligible to sign free agent contract while on exempt list



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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy will be allowed to sign a new contract even if he remains on the commissioner's exempt list.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday in an email to The Associated Press, "There's nothing to prevent a player on the Exempt list without a contract from signing a new one."

NFL free agency begins Tuesday.

However, Hardy's playing status remains in limbo. He isn't allowed to actually play until removed from the exempt list, which could prevent teams from going after him in free agency.

Hardy was scheduled to meet with NFL officials Wednesday in New York to discuss his domestic violence case, but no resolution has been announced.

He faces a possible suspension from the league even though his conviction on two counts of domestic violence was dismissed Feb. 9 following a successful appeal.

The NFL has said it is investigating Hardy's case.

The league unsuccessfully petitioned courts in North Carolina to have evidence from Hardy's first trial unsealed. Without that evidence, it may be difficult for the league to suspend him.

Hardy made $13.1 million last season as Carolina's franchise player, but only played in one game.

Hardy is not expected to re-sign with Carolina and could become one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market.

The 26-year-old Hardy remains in the prime of his career and had 15 sacks in 2013, tying a Panthers franchise record.

Hardy, who is normally active on social media, has not tweeted anything about his meeting with the league.

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