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The Real Reason Why Greg Hardy Won’t Be Back

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Greg Hardy Back In Week 5: What To Look Forward To

A rumor broke on Monday from credible Cowboys analysts that the team had decided to move on from soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy. In response, Stephen Jones has made a public statement that the team is not yet decided on Hardy. Is this the truth or the typical management move of trying to maintain leverage until point you absolutely don't need it? Only the Cowboys know for sure.

Let's assume that the original report is correct and that Dallas intends to let Hardy walk. Some are rightfully surprised by this news given the current issues at defensive end. Randy Gregory will be serving a four-game suspension to start the year and DeMarcus Lawrence is recovering from minor back surgery. Jeremy Mincey and Jack Crawford are free agents, leaving just Ryan Russell currently under contract from last year's squad.

It would be a mistake, in my opinion, to label Dallas' decision as an admittance of error about signing Hardy last year. I've already seen some trying to say just that; that the Cowboys have realized they were wrong to give Hardy a chance after learning more about his domestic abuse case. There's also the notion that Hardy was too much of a locker room problem and burned his bridge in Dallas.

Let's put aside all that conjecture and focus on the one fact we have about Hardy in 2015; he had just four sacks in his last 11 games. You don't need to know anymore than that to understand why Dallas is moving on. I'm not saying the other stuff isn't a factor, but it's secondary to the simple truth that Hardy wasn't a difference-maker for the defense after his first few weeks.

We didn't realize it at the the time, but even Hardy's grand debut has to be taken with a grain of salt. After serving his suspension Hardy debuted in seemingly top form with two sacks, a forced fumble, and several other hits on Tom Brady. However, just a few months later, we saw Brady and the Patriots' offensive line get massacred by the Broncos.  Was Hardy really making an impact there or was it more an issue of the Patriots' horrible pass protection?

Put that game aside and Hardy's season was well short of impactful. He did have one more sack the next week and an interception the week after, but from there he had just three sacks over the final nine games. By comparison, Mincey had six sacks in his last nine weeks of 2014.

Hardy was supposed to blow Mincey out of the water. That's why Dallas bit the bullet on signing him and took on all of the public relation backlash after Hardy's domestic issues. That's why they put up with Hardy's Twitter misbehavior and reported issues with practice and team meeting tardiness and absence, or his minor dust-up with Special Team Coach Rich Bisaccia.

Remember, Dallas could have cut bait with Hardy at any point last year. They structured his contract specifically with that provision; a penalty-free option to release him whenever they felt they needed to. Despite Hardy's lack of production, and despite their season going in the toilet pretty quickly thanks to the Tony Romo injury, things never got so bad that Dallas felt they needed to cut Hardy loose.

To be clear, I wouldn't blame the Cowboys if they wanted to bring Hardy back. He turns just 28 in July and still has better skills than most of what's out there in free agency. Dallas has already taken the media hit for doing business with Hardy and perhaps they could chalk up his low production to all of the turmoil and distractions swirling around his personal life. Taking a chance on him getting back to form next year, further removed from the drama, would be a logical move.

In the end, though, football isn't very merciful. Dallas took a big P.R. hit and paid Hardy a lot money for very little in return. That doesn't sit well with any front office. Hardy could've overcome every bit of his personal issues with on-field production. He didn't, and I expect Dallas would rather look to new options than stick with a seemingly bad investment.

Maybe they'll be wrong. Hardy could sign with a new team and be back to double-digit sacks. I'm sure some of those clamoring for Dallas to part ways now will have short memories and later criticize them for giving up too soon. That logic I described earlier about Hardy bouncing back could wind up being another team's to enjoy.

Much like they took a chance by signing Hardy, though, I think Dallas will take the risk of letting him walk. They won't lose sleep over whatever success he has with his next team because, here and now, they sent a clear message to their players that you have to show up on Sunday. Yes, they'll put up with plenty Monday thru Saturday if you do it, but what happens on the field is ultimately what matters.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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1 Comment
  • Randy Martin

    Good write up Jessie. I think you said what needs to be said.

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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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