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Greg Hardy & The Dallas Cowboys: What’s The Reality for 2016?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Greg Hardy & The Dallas Cowboys: What's The Reality for 2016?

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.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

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

Tell us what you think about "Greg Hardy & The Dallas Cowboys: What’s The Reality for 2016?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. RJ Ochoa

    RJ Ochoa

    February 19, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    I really, really enjoyed this. It would be worse from a PR angle not to bring him back IMO (assuming all is straight from a legal/league discipline perspective). It would be an admission that they were wrong. Why do that? What do you stand to gain?

    Sent from my iPhone using Pigskin Hub – Pro Football Forums mobile app

    • Sean Martin

      Sean Martin

      February 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you, RJ. Let him put his head down and work now, and try to get even more out of him. All of the garbage headlines have to run out at some points. There's not going to be much to say about him if he stays clean all the way to training camp and is just playing football.

  2. John in Caliornia

    February 21, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I just think that playing in the NFL is a wonder privalege that is enjoyed by very few. A man that would brutally beat a woman has no place. Not just Hardy, every single one of them. Our kids are watching these people, buying their jerseys. Our wive's and daughters watch with us, alot of them are fans. I know from a football perspective its a good move. However, theres plenty of pass rushing talent coming into the NFL every year.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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