Hardy will take a leave of absence from the team. He will be allowed to be in the building but cannot practice.
Hardy will be deactivated, with pay, until the conclusion of his legal proceedings. The news comes hours after the Minnesota Vikings did the same with running back Adrian Peterson due to his child abuse case.
From a statement by Hardy:
"I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter. I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that's where my focus should be. I appreciate the Panthers for giving me this opportunity and look forward to being back with my teammates as soon as possible."
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said the team's goal is to "do the right thing." He said that Hardy chose the option and that the NFL was part of the process.
“Greg is still part of this football team. We have done nothing but put him on a leave of absence," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
The defensive end met with team officials on Wednesday and agreed to be placed on the exempt list, Bleacher Report's Jason Cole reported earlier Wednesday.
According to Gettleman, Hardy will probably be on the list until the middle of November when his trial begins.
Hardy's deactivation comes amid growing pressure to keep the defensive end off the field in the wake of his domestic violence conviction and the NFL's larger issues with domestic abuse in recent weeks. Hardy was convicted in July of assaulting a female and communicating threats. It was determined that Hardy threw his ex-girlfriend into a bathtub, choked her, threatened to kill her and then threw her onto a futon covered with semi-automatic rifles and shotguns.
Hardy appealed the ruling and will have a jury trial in November. The Panthers and the NFL had said they won't discipline Hardy until the conclusion of his jury trial, and he played in the team's Week 1 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the face of wider controversy brought on by the release of the new Ray Rice video, Carolina deactivated Hardy for last week's game against the Detroit Lions but then said his Week 3 status would be determined this week.
The Panthers' decision is similar to that of the Vikings. Minnesota deactivated running back Peterson for Week 2 after he was indicted last Friday for allegedly beating his four-year-old son with a switch. On Monday, Minnesota cleared him to play in Week 3. After facing criticism for the decision, including from Minnesota's governor and several corporate sponsors, the Vikings placed Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list early Wednesday.
- Ben Estes and Molly Geary