To Release or Not to Release The Kraken

This Panther season looks like it may be remembered most for the Kraken being on the Commissioner's exempt list.  And that loss has had a direct impact on the #2 ranked Defense from 2013 falling to 29th.  I won't say that his being out is the sole reason we are struggling.  But I will say he is is the biggest reason we are not still in first place in the NFC South.  His 15 sacks from a year ago, along with his fiery persona and constant pressure is sorely lacking.  Below is a brief discussion on both for and against bringing him back to the Panthers both immediately and long term.  Then I want to hear your thoughts.

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They Don’t Call Charles Johnson “Big Money” for Nothing

Carolina’s premier pass rushers, Charles “Big Money” Johnson and Greg “the Kraken” Hardy, couldn’t have more polar personalities. Described as the “Odd Couple,” the two differ in nearly every respect.  Big Money, or “Chuck,” has the big contract and reticent personality. Not known for being particularly vocal in the locker room, Charlotte News and Observer’s Joe Person describes Johnson as a reluctant leader, and his teammates color him as “professional” and as a “normal guy.”  In contrast, teammates describe “Little Money” Hardy as a “guy who is a little off.”  Hardy’s alter ego, “the Kraken,” highlights his cavalier and domineering personality, which starkly contrasts the unsung hero Charles Johnson.

Greg Hardy ArrestThe national media also reinforces these differences.  Johnson is the reserved and unrecognized star.  Big Money might bring it strong and consistent each week, but he flies under the radar (probably much to his liking).  He’s relentless in the pass rush and strong against the run. Defensive coordinators and offensive tackles know him, and are probably nauseated when game planning for Chuck. His impressive consistency hasn’t garnered any real national appreciation, however.  He’s never made the Pro Bowl.  Most analysts outside of Carolina hardly know his name.

He puts up impressive numbers, but somehow it never captures tremendous attention.

Charles Johnson Stats:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Tm G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl
2010 CAR 16 16 11.5 1 51
2011 CAR 15 15 9.0 4 31
2012 CAR 16 16 12.5 4 7 0 1 0 0 31
2013 CAR 14 14 11.0 1 0 1 0 0 28
Career 93 65 54.0 19 11 0 3 0 0 178
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2014.

Greg Hardy’s eager adoption of the “Kraken” persona, in contrast, has made him a national celebrity. The crazy contact lenses, face paint, primetime introduction as “Kraken from Hogwarts” have created media sensation that dominated 2014 free agency talk.  The Kraken’s Super Bowl media tour, where he scared Skip Bayless and publically welcomed the franchise tag as an opportunity to enhance his already astronomical market value, captured the national media spotlight.

Kraken’s statistical production is coincidently resemblant of his flashy personality also.  Compiling 26 sacks over the past season, Hardy has imposed himself on the field.  Hardy accrued these sacks much differently than his counterpart, Big Money.  Johnson has had a steady diet of sacks for the past four years.  Hardy tends to feast heavily and sporadically, often followed by fasting.  66.67% of Hardy’s sacks came in just three games in 2013.   

This production, however, is starkly different to Johnson’s steady diet of sacks. 

Greg Hardy Stats:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl
2010 15 0 3.0 1 2 0 0 0 0 20
2011 16 16 4.0 11 1 0 0 0 0 38
2012 15 10 11.0 2 2 0 1 0 0 41
2013* 16 13 15.0 1 1 0 0 0 0 40
Career 62 39 33.0 15 6 0 1 0 0 139
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/13/2014.

Hardy’s recent arrest for assault on a female and communicating threats again epitomizes this contrast.  Hardy was described as a flaky guy coming into the league, and has always sought the spotlight, for better or for worse, while he’s been Carolina. Whether it’s posting pictures on Instagram of him going 100 mph in a Bentley or strolling into his first year of training camp bandaged up from a motorcycle accident, questions have always surrounded the Kraken’s character.  Until this week, the questions have been relatively minor and more about maturity than character.  This most recent incident, however, once again raises eyebrows.

Big Money, who has maintained a polished public image, noted this on Twitter after Hardy’s arrest:

The message was simple, unassuming, and perfectly fitting of Johnson’s personality—“Money Over Bitches.” If Big Money knows about anything as much as getting after the quarterback, it is getting after the big contract. Clearly directed at teammate Greg Hardy—don’t let anything come between you and the paper—Johnson’s comments shouldn’t be overlooked. Hardy is at the most important financial junction of his career.  Any opportunity that diminishes a player’s value has to be avoided.  The fame and flash can be fun, but it can’t get in the way of the money.

After Charles Johnson signed his “Big Money” contract, he was asked about his first big purchase. “Honesty,” he stated, “I bought my house that I wanted and it’s been the only real big purchase since. I’m also saving a lot and waiting to see how my career pans out.”

Hardy needs to take a page from the “Big Money” playbook and work on saving his image and money.  This incident will not be cheap.  This will have contract implications, whether direct or indirect.  ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio predicted that Hardy’s arrest will cause his market value to “plummet” on WFNZ’s Mac Attack. At the very minimum, this incident doesn’t give Hardy any added advantage in contract negotiations.  If he misses any workouts or games from suspension, it will cost the Kraken major money.  A one game suspension would result in more than 700k loss for Hardy.

From the outside looking in, the “Kraken” persona has increased Hardy’s market value to this point. The persona can’t become bigger than the player, however.  Listen to your boy Charles Johnson; they don’t call him “Big Money” for nothing.  MOB!

BREAKING NEWS - Greg Hardy Traded to Falcons for Picks, Harry Douglas

Yes, Panther Nation, the news just broke and I am SHOCKED!

NOBODY saw a blockbuster deal like this coming. It was just announced that the Carolina Panthers traded defensive end Greg Hardy to the Atlanta Falcons for their second and sixth-round picks in May's draft this year AND wide receiver Harry Douglas.

To complete the trade, the Panthers also send reserve RB Kenyon Barner, a rookie who was injured much of last year and ineffective when he did see the field while the Falcons ship the Panthers reserve DE Cliff Matthews.

The Panthers also receive Atlanta's fifth-round pick in 2015.


I would say I can't believe he was traded, but now it makes perfect sense as to why Gettleman slapped Hardy with the franchise tag instead of a long-term made him easier to quietly shop and trade because there is NO massive salary attached to him.

Trading The Kraken to a divisional foe isn't the best idea, in my opinion, especially given the state of the offensive tackle position for the Panthers. Gettleman just handed the Atlanta Falcons a weapon to use against us that we are incapable of dealing with at the moment.

I certainly don't see a Byron Bell stopping him. A rookie, no matter how good, will be hard-pressed to slow him down, too.

Harry Douglass had a thousand-yard receiving year due to multiple injuries to the Falcons' receiving corps and the hope is that he will bring that to the Panthers' offense.

"We are sorry to see such a vibrant young player leaving the organization, but are confident he will be a success whoever he plays with. I know some of you are questioning why we traded within the division, and the short answer is Atlanta gave us the best deal. You can't live in the NFL being afraid to face certain players, whether they played for you in the past or not. We play in Baltimore this year and Smitty caught on there, so it's going to be a recurring theme for us in 2014," General Manager David Gettleman said.

Head Coach Ron Rivera chimed in as well. "While Greg (Hardy) has been a wonderful player for us and for me in particular, I know we have several young players capable of filling in his role - specifically, rushing the passer and setting the edge against the run."

Rivera paused and gave the throng of reporters a good long if he were a teacher addressing an unruly class.

"I want to emphasize this move was done for multiple reasons; NONE of which have anything to do with his play or his character. He has been a great example for everyone on the team.

"At the end of the day," he continued, "you HAVE to keep in mind that the NFL is a business and with the deepest draft of the 21st century approaching, Dave (Gettleman) and I both agree - the team will be better off with this personnel move and by adding the extra (draft) picks. It also gives us more freedom to move up and down the board to target in on a couple of kids we may really want to add to our team.

"Dave (Gettleman) and I have always talked about 'being nimble' and this, unfortunate as it looks to many outsiders, is the best way to accomplish it. We'll be fine without Greg and I feel Harry Douglass brings a nice skill set to help the offense and our younger receivers....whether they be Marvin McNutt or a kid we sign off the street when the draft is over," he explained.

A reporter asked Gettleman how long the trade talks had been going "rumors" had gotten out and something often does beforehand.

Gettleman had a wily smile in response. "I don't want to get too much into that - let's just say things moved very quickly once they started," he thoughtfully replied.

Another reporter asked if this meant the team would target a pass rusher/DE in the draft.

"We're always looking for the best talent we can, regardless of position," Gettleman replied. "That said, if one falls to us, we'll take a good look. If not, Ron (Rivera) still has good talent there to use. I'm excited we now have nine picks instead of seven and another proven target for Cam Newton to throw to."

The swarming reporters kept wanting to ask questions, but Gettleman held his hand up.

"I know you've got a lot of questions, and they'll get answered in good time I'm sure. We simply feel like, at this point in building this team, we will be a better team for it (the trade) than not. That may sound cold because we certainly know how much of a popular player amongst the fans Greg Hardy was. Believe me, that was NOT lost on us," Gettleman explained.

"But that having been said, I feel we've strengthened the team where we could without losing as much as many think we have - again, because of the young talent we have in-house there. We have added firepower for the upcoming draft and improved our group of receivers. We've also freed up some salary cap space for use either this year or to help go to re-sign Cam. This move actually makes the organization more stable, not less. Thank you."

Reporters were still shouting questions and flashbulbs were still popping as Rivera, Gettleman, and a few unidentified assistants left the press room.

Incredible news! And it would be even more incredible if it were true! April Fool's! ;)

Man....I gotcha last year good with the "Newton traded to Arizona" thing, now this! hehe enjoy!

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