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Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Focus: The Curious Case Of Greg Hardy

The Cowboys will certainly be researching quite a few free agents that will be set to hit the market. One player that will require more diligence than others will be the former Carolina Panthers Pro Bowler.

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Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Before the outcries and guffaws, let it be known that it's free agency we're talking about. I wouldn't be doing my job unless I brought it up. Greg Hardy is likely headed for free agency after only playing in one game this past season. The Carolina Panthers seem to have washed their hands of the troubled defensive end, a player who is a premier pass rusher.

The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of a pass rush. After ranking 28th in the league in sacks, it has been discussed ad nauseam. Though Dallas managed to win their division and a playoff game, in order to get to where they want to go a powerful pass rusher is needed.

Greg Hardy was a low draft pick coming out of college. Injuries, lack of production and a poor combine resulted in a significant dent in his draft status. Hardy was eventually drafted in the sixth round by the Carolina Panthers. He wouldn't start a single game in his rookie season but managed to record three sacks, two forced fumbles and a safety.

In his second year, Hardy started all but one game and recorded four sacks. It wasn't until 2012 when Hardy really broke out. That year he would record 13 sacks in 10 starts. He also graded out +17.0 by PFF standards. 2013 would be his best year as he recorded 15 sacks, 27 quarterback hurries and earned second team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

Hardy was set to hit free agency in 2014 but was franchise tagged on February 28th. Hardy would only play one game before he was deactivated and later placed on the NFL's Exempt List stemming from a domestic violence charge.

On June 15th, 2014, Hardy was convicted of assaulting his partner Nicole Holder. He exercised his right for an appeal after he denied the claims against him by Holder. It was alleged that Hardy flung her into a bathtub after throwing Holder on top of his bed, (which was coincidentally filled with guns), and choking her. On February 9, 2015 all charges were dismissed after Holder failed to appear in court with her case. There are rumors that a financial settlement was made.

Even with the latest dismissal, it is likely that Hardy could face further punishment by the league before being reinstated. With the Cowboys need at the position, they will certainly be looking into the matter. It probably wouldn't take a ton of resources to sign Hardy except for pocket cash and salary cap space. The real question is would the Cowboys want all that baggage in their locker room? After shedding problems of the past, Dallas has one of the stronger locker rooms in the league. Bringing in a guy with Hardy's past could send the wrong message.

In the past two seasons the Cowboys could have used Hardy's production level but it seems unlikely that he would fit Jason Garrett's team. Dallas has trust in their coaching staff and have taken on guys with troubled pasts in recent years. Josh Brent, Rolando McClain, and even most recent scuffs with Joseph Randle all come to mind. However, with all the turmoil that has scarred the league regarding domestic violence, it might be better to look elsewhere in regards to Hardy.

This organization has always believed in second chances, but I feel they would stay away from this current hot topic of the NFL. With Jason Garrett's mantra being the "right kind of guys", it is undefined what that means but I hardly think Hardy is in that discussion.