It is one of the burning questions for the Dallas Cowboys this off season, and yet it appears they are no closer to an answer than they were at the very end of the miserable 2015 season. Will defensive end Greg Hardy be with this team in 2016?
I’ll give my take on the matter later on, but let’s begin by simply laying out the facts. Hardy played just 1 game in 2014, making his last full season 2013 when he was with the Carolina Panthers. That year, he recorded 15 sacks and was tied for the league lead in tackles.
In 12 games as a Cowboy in 2015 (four missed due to suspension), Hardy totaled just six sacks – but was consistently around the quarterback. Even when he wasn’t disrupting a play, at the very least Hardy always drew respect from opposing offensive lines – freeing up the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence to get around the other edge.
We know Rod Marinelli loves versatility from every member of his defense, and the 27 year old Hardy certainly gave this unit just that with his ability to rush from the edge or on the inside.
So, in pure football analysis, Greg Hardy is a guy the Cowboys want back in 2016. This is especially true when you look at the depth at the defensive end position. Only one player on the depth chart who has recorded a career sack (Lawrence) is under contract for next season.
Jeremy Mincey is a free agent for Dallas, and in his contract year he failed to record a single sack. While the progression of D-Law at the end of 2015 was a very encouraging sign for fans, investing the bulk of the pass-rush next season to him and Randy Gregory is a risky move for a team that is in win-now mode.
Winning teams need veterans along the defensive line, and Greg Hardy is certainly that.
What we also know is that the Cowboys had anything but a good time controlling the headlines swirling around Greg Hardy this season. While a large amount of them may have been unwarranted, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys understand what they are – and the special attention that goes into their brand.
While we never got a full picture from Jason Garrett, he did reference throughout the season multiple occasions in which he had to talk to Hardy behind closed doors. Garrett is often unfairly criticized based on what he makes public by the fans, but behind closed doors he runs a tight ship that carries a ton of public respect from his players.
While it may be fair to assume that some of these closed-door meetings with Hardy were over marginal things, the frequency of them based on what we know is concerning.
However, Cowboys fans would still like to see Hardy back with the team next year.
Do you want Greg Hardy back?
My question to the 46% of voters that said no would be this: Did you vote that way because you legitimately do not want to see Greg Hardy in Dallas next season, or simply out of frustration that the team has not made anything clear in regards to his status?
While Joey Bosa, Noah Spence and even Ronald Blair may all be enticing options in the draft to replace Hardy, the team would also be admitting to a major fault if moving on from the Hardy experiment after just one season.
They took their lumps for it in 2015, along with all of the other fanfare that comes from a 4-12 football team that entered the season with a Super Bowl in mind. Now in 2016, if they feel Hardy has truthfully learned from his mistakes, they can take full advantage of the signing – boosting a pass rush that could lead a much improved defense.
I would like to see Hardy with the team next season, but obviously have no say in the matter. The people who do have also not told us much, and the longer this drags on the more the speculation will grow.
If you voted in the above poll, feel free to expand on your choice here with a comment below or on Twitter @ShoreSportsNJ!