The Greg Hardy signing in Dallas sends confusing messages
- Updated: March 19, 2015
The Dallas Cowboys had a good defense last season. That was a far cry from the previous years where they were near last in the NFL in defense and the offense had to carry them. But even with better defense, the Cowboys were still lacking something defensively. Dallas, led by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, were a scrappy bunch last season. You may have questioned the schemes they ran at times or the personnel on the field, but you could never question the desire they had. But something seemed to be missing from them. They lacked someone that opposing offenses feared. And it was because of that, the effort could only carry them but so far. The team needed a pass rusher that would cause headaches and nightmares for the opposing team. And they officially got their man to do that today. The Cowboys signed former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year deal. The deal is incentive laden and will be something that could cost Dallas anywhere between $11 million and $13.2 million. The interesting thing about this deal is that the base salary is small ($750,000). But what makes the deal highly lucrative for Hardy is the workout bonus ($1.3 million) and a $9.25 million roster bonus that he can earn weekly with every week he is on the roster. And the great part about this deal for Hardy is that he cannot have the franchise tag placed on him after this deal is done. But what message are the Cowboys sending with this signing?
Hardy is a feared pass rusher on the field. He can crush a pocket with his brute strength or dazzle an offensive lineman with his agility. In 2013, Hardy totaled 15 sacks and was a terror defensively. But that was missing in 2014 for Carolina. In the offseason of 2014, Hardy was charged and found guilty of assaulting and communicating threats to a woman he was involved with. He was originally found guilty in the matter but he decided to appeal the ruling and in the state of North Carolina, he had that right to do so. Meanwhile, the fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence video was still coming down. Rice was suspended two games by the NFL and then the NFL came back and suspended him for the rest of the season when the second tape dropped that showed him punching his now wife in an elevator in Atlantic City. Rice lost his job and is currently looking for work right now. As far as Hardy, he was eventually deactivated from the Carolina team while his legal case still went on. Eventually he was placed on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt List while his case was resolved. Hardy was eventually found not guilty, but not with some talk about the matter. There were rumors that he paid off the woman involved in the matter and that noise got louder and louder after the woman involved was uncooperative after the appeal was made on the decision. But nevertheless, Hardy is a free man and is signed, sealed and delivered to the Cowboys after signing his deal. The Cowboys are willing to deal with the potential shouts of domestic violence victims for the chance to sign someone that could help bring them a championship.
There is also another message the Cowboys sent to the Cowboys star wide receiver in this signing as well. Dez Bryant was looking at the 2014 season as his time to show the Cowboys that he was worth a huge contract. The spectacular wide receiver from the Oklahoma State University went out and had another good season while helping turn the Dallas Cowboys team around. The Cowboys made the playoffs for the first time in a while and arguably should have been playing in the NFC title game if it weren’t for one call that didn’t go their way. Dez was more than a player that put up numbers this past season though. Bryant became a leader of the team and was not going to let his search for a new contract derail what was happening for his team on the field. When the offseason came around, plenty expected that he would get the money that he wanted. Bryant was reportedly looking for a $100 million deal to make his home in Dallas and he reportedly didn’t want the franchise tag. Well, Bryant got paid but he also got the franchise tag that he and his agents did not want. Part of the reported reason that Dallas was not willing to commit to the long-term deal with Bryant was due to their concerns about off-the-field behavior. The alleged videotape that was “as bad as the Ray Rice video” has been talked about for a while now and still there is no tape. There was also the incident between Bryant and his mother, and six incidents about police coming to his home, but Bryant was not involved nor proven to have done anything in those matters. These incidents combined with the reported anger management issues have the Cowboys having cold feet about locking him down with big guarantees and long-term money. At that point, it seemed that the Cowboys were concerned about the image of the team and what they portrayed. But just when you thought the Cowboys cared about that, they sign a guy that, although innocent, probably has some anger management issues in his own right. In Bryant’s mind, there has to be some wondering going on. The star receiver has to be thinking about where the noise is coming from around him potentially getting paid. And he also has to wonder if he will be getting paid in the future from Dallas. Plenty of teams would jump at the chance to pay Bryant big money should he hit the open market. The question remains as to what Dallas will do with Bryant going forward, but they must realize at some point that they will have to pay him long-term. Even if they do or don’t come to a deal, the doubt has to be growing in Bryant’s mind as to what his future holds in Dallas after the signing of Hardy.
Dallas got what they needed and Hardy got the money he wanted on a show-me deal. But while that happened, Dallas management is sending a confused message to some fans and also to their star wide receiver, Dez Bryant. It will be interesting to see how Dez responds to playing for a contract in a season where he thought he would be rewarded for his play.