Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will appear in court on July 15 to stand trial on two assault charges stemming from a fight with his girlfriend, as reported by Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. It just so happens that July 15 is a significant date in the NFL offseason, as it's the deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign long-term contracts with their respective teams.
Hardy is one of those tagged players, coming off a monster season that forced Carolina to use the tag in the first place. But getting the two sides to agree on a long-term extension is difficult enough already -- throwing around big money is a big deal, after all -- without factoring in Hardy's off-the-field legal troubles on top of it.
Initially scheduled to appear in court on June 27, it's unclear why Hardy's trial was pushed back to July 15. Hardy is presently facing two misdemeanor charges for the incident in which Nicole Holder alleges Hardy attacked her in the early morning on May 13. Holder says Hardy assaulted her in various ways, and threatened to shoot her if she told anyone about the incident.
Hardy has turned over various rifles and shotguns to the authorities as per a court order stemming from this incident. He hasn't spoken publicly on the charges to this point, and his attorney, Chris Fialko, hasn't said much beyond that Holder was the one who attacked Hardy on that morning.
Whatever the case, July 15 is a big day for Hardy and the Panthers. It's worth noting that we rarely see deals come through close to this yearly deadline when it comes to franchise players. It's possible the Panthers and Hardy have something worked out in which they plan to extend him if things go well, but the July 15 hearing is not likely to make things incredibly clear. Such a trial will not likely facilitate a reactionary contract signing unless the team is aware of some sort of planned plea bargain well before court is actually in session.