Thursday March 5th, 2015

Greg Hardy is free to sign a free-agent contract when his current deal expires next Tuesday, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press on Thursday. 

Hardy, who has played the last five seasons with the Carolina Panthers, is currently on the commissioner's exempt list and is reportedly petitioning the NFL for reinstatement.

"There's nothing to prevent a player on the Exempt list without a contract from signing a new one," Aiello told the AP in an email.

Hardy was convicted in July of misdemeanor domestic violence charges for assaulting and threatening an ex-girlfriend. He played one game in 2014 before the Panthers placed him on the exempt list.

Hardy was accused of throwing the woman onto a futon covered with firearms, choking her and threatening to kill her. 

Hardy appealed the verdict and was set to stand trial last month but the charges were dropped after his accuser did not appear in court. 

The NFL is conducting its own investigation but was unable to get the court to unseal records from the first trial, the AP reports. The possibility remains that Hardy could be suspended for six games next season under the NFL's revised domestic violence policy.

Hardy, 26, has 34 sacks in 63 games and tied a Panthers franchise record with 13 sacks in 2013.

- Dan Gartland

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