With the season officially over, the next several months will be dedicated to putting together a competitive team for 2016. The Dallas Cowboys will be faced with some tough decisions as they have several fringe guys who will become free agents. Morris Claiborne has played out his rookie contract. Rolando McClain has played through two different "show-me" contracts and each time they have still left many questions on the table.
And then there is Greg Hardy.
Last year, the Cowboys bucked a trend of signing lesser-known depth guys in free agency to go after one of the elite pass rushers in the game. Hardy didn't come cheap as he cost the Cowboys $8.8 million this season. And that doesn't include the price of all the medial hoopla that came with signing a player who was facing a suspension for a domestic violence incident in 2014. The Cowboys gave Hardy a chance, but did he do enough to get another deal? It's tough to say exactly how the team perceives Hardy or what his market price will be, but after listening to Jason Garrett's press conference on Monday - my instincts are telling me that Hardy will not be back.
There are two things that you can count on in a Jason Garrett press conference. First, he offers up very little in regards to any locker room business or any personal matters relating to a player. Team issues stay within the team and Garrett will give you nothing. Second, Jason doesn't bad mouth people. Whether it's officiating or his own players making mistakes, Garrett doesn't use this forum to criticize people. This type of bland response can infuriate some fans as many draw the conclusion that Garrett isn't privy to the wrong doings of his own team and a bunch of mayhem is going on while he just sits on his hands. But don't let the simplicity of his words mislead you. Garrett knows exactly what's going on.
So on Monday, when he was asked if he wanted Greg Hardy back on the team, he stayed on script and gave the media very little, saying...
"Don't want to get into any personnel decisions right now,"
In typical Jason Garrett fashion, he would point out some positives of the player.
"I thought Greg did some good things for us on the field, defended the run well at times, impacted the quarterback at different times during the game," Garrett said.
But that's all he said. Usually, he is a little more elaborate about what a player brings to the table. Certainly there was a lot more that could have talked about when it comes to Hardy's contribution to the team. He went on for five minutes about Darren McFadden and he can talk about Jason Witten for days. Could the lack of words from Jason be a testament to how he feels about Hardy?
Jason Garrett cares about Greg Hardy, the football player. What kind of teammate he is, how he prepares, and the leadership he provides to this team. And from all counts earlier in the season, Hardy was delivering in those areas. And he was delivering on the field too as he started out strong with four sacks in his first four games and also a nice interception against Russell Wilson of Seattle.
Of course, there have been some issues. Hardy isn't the most tactful tweeter as he made some poor taste comments about the Twin Towers. Then, there was the comments he made about Tom Brady's wife. And we cannot forget the famous clipboard incident on the sideline that made a lot of news that week. Jason Garrett would deal with Hardy regarding these behavior episodes and coincidentally, Hardy has been quiet since. But his on-field performance has been quiet as well as he only has two sacks over the last eight games of the season.
The Cowboys front office will thoroughly evaluate each player as they make decisions on who they want to keep, but Jason Garrett might already have a good idea as to what the future holds when it comes to Hardy. And if the Cowboys and Hardy part ways, everyone will have their own theory on why it happened, but for Garrett it's going to center around what's going to make this team better. Since Hardy won't come cheap, using the money elsewhere may be the answer. And while Garrett will never come out and say it, sometimes saying very little can be revealing. He didn't have a whole lot to say about Joseph Randle earlier in the year when he was absent from Valley Ranch, and Randle was released shortly thereafter.
Do you think Jason's limited comments about Hardy is an indication of his lack of interest in seeing him return next season?