Earlier in February, I wrote a focus piece on Greg Hardy that was met with trepidation. Those uneasy feelings did not just come from our community but from myself. Greg Hardy is a polarizing enigma if you will. However, with the Cowboys need at the position, the front office shouldn't rule anyone out too soon.
This free agency period has been moving swiftly as usual and the cupboard of quality pass rushers is starting to look bare. Brandon Graham, Jabaal Sheard, Derrick Morgan, Adrian Clayborn and other potential Cowboys' targets have all signed with other teams. Greg Hardy, who is arguably the best pass rusher in free agency is still lingering in the open market.
There are so many intricate factors that have Hardy still looking for work. The talent is overwhelmingly obvious but the past cannot be ignored. Here's a recap from the February focus article on Hardy's domestic spat:
"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."
Just this past week, Adam Schefter reported that interest was starting to heat up in the former Panther. Yet, only one unidentifiable team has emerged to be negotiating. But will that change the longer Hardy is available?
The Cowboys could potentially get one of the league's best pass-rushers on the super cheap if the buzz continues to flow this slowly. The issue lies within the league's impending punishment for Hardy. He currently sits on the NFL Commissioner's Exempt List, but could face further reprimands when reinstated. The Carolina Panthers chose to make him inactive when all the reports came out and he eventually landed in Roger Goodell's lap. There is a report from earlier this week of the Cowboys personnel department's view on the matter and it's concrete:
"[On Greg Hardy] a flat "no'' from the [Cowboys] personnel department as we're about to enter the second wave of free-agent shopping. Would the baggage be too much? Yes, especially because this isn't just about stuff in the past but also about red flags for the future. Would the money be too much? So it seems, as his showboating Drew Rosenhaus is floating the idea of six teams courting the player, suggesting a bidding battle is about to ensue.
The Cowboys need help in the pass-rush department. And maybe things change if Hardy sits on the shelf to the third wave. But right now? The position is a flat "no.''
The longer Hardy sits the better for the Cowboys' positioning, but the bigger their need on the defensive line grows. Anthony Spencer is already being courted by other teams after his steady climb toward the end of 2014. Though the Cowboys will certainly try and utilize the draft to get younger and better on defense, rookie pass rushers contributing double-digit sacks don't happen too often.
The Cowboys inability to get home was evident in 2014. The development of Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence are important to the success of 2015, but the Cowboys could use a proven commodity there to start cooking. Hardy only played in one game of 2014, but was on a steady climb since entering the league in 2010. After a slow start, Hardy produced sack totals of 13, 14, and 15 in three consecutive seasons. At 26, he's entering the prime of his career and would go a long-way in helping the Cowboys achieve what they believe they are capable of.
In February it was easy for us to dismiss this type of acquisition, but as the time goes on, the talent level dwindles. I stand by the decisions that this front office makes and will continue to do so no matter Hardy's outcome. Domestic violence is nothing to scoff at and discard easily and Dallas will presumably do what is best for their locker room. Though it does warrant mentioning of a certain Cowboys' captain who's lobbying for the troubled player. When speaking on a local Dallas radio station, Barry Church plead his case publicly:
"He could make not only my
job a loteasier, but everybody on the back end’s job a lot easier. When you have a guy like that who can pressure the quarterback and consistently get back there and make the quarterback throw errant passes and tips and overthrows, that’s what we love back there in the secondary."
"It’ll definitely give us an opportunity to cover the receivers a lot less time than what we had to last year."
Whether the Cowboys' interest intensifies will remain to be seen, but for a pass rush that ranked 28th in the league, no stone should be left unturned. Dallas has been tough-minded and adamant about their "RKG" approach. Community leaders such as Jason Witten, who experienced his own mother's continuous abuse, could be harder to convince. With that said the longer this process drags on the more interesting and enticing the possibility becomes. This isn't a Charles Haley-situation, each matter is separate in it's own right and deserves investigation, but this shouldn't be over by any means.