While there’s little doubt Greg Hardy is the best remaining player in free agency, his off-field and locker room notoriety makes him almost untouchable at this point for teams around the NFL, which might just make the talented pass rusher sit out next season.
Are all the NFL teams going to ignore what he can give them on the field because of what he did off of it? His domestic abuse incident which didn’t result in anything in the courts but did get him suspended and eventually led to pictures being released of what he can do to a person he gets mad it didn’t make him any more appealing to NFL teams. Add that to the bad word of mouth coming out of the Dallas Cowboys locker room, and you get a 27-year old in his prime who can’t get anyone to sign him.
Hardy played for the Cowboys last season, missing the first few games, playing 11 overall. He had six sacks and 20 quarterback hits in another productive season for him, although it was nothing like his All-Pro effort in 2013, before he was punished by the NFL and released by the Carolina Panthers. Hardy even had an interception last year, but the Cowboys losing and Hardy not making any friends away from the field helped mark it as a failure of a season, even if the numbers and watching him play determine otherwise.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh commented on the matter of Hardy, asked about whether or not he might end up playing for them. The answer was a pretty clear cut no, and he’s not the only coach in the NFL who feels that way. While Adrian Peterson’s incident with his child is in the past and Ray Rice (who probably isn’t going to play again) apologized for his behavior, Hardy has shown zero regret for his actions. The fact that he probably bought his way out of being involved in a trial doesn’t make him a good person or someone NFL teams want to be involved with.
It’s like NFL owners and the league in general has something to do with being great humanitarians. It’s about perception and damage control. While the pictures of his beaten up ex-girlfriend were hidden from the world, just like before the Rice video of beating his wife in an elevator and then dragging her while she was unconscious the Ravens were willing to have him back. But the moment the public knows the full extent of what happens, it’s hard explaining how you can sign someone with that kind of incident in his recent past.
When glancing over what some NFL analysts have been thinking, it seems that someone might end up picking Hardy at some point. It won’t be for a lot of money (made $9.4 million last season with the Cowboys) and it might be later on, well after the draft when injuries start piling up. However, Hardy is probably too good of a player to be completely ostracized from the league, and has another strike to achieve before he’s officially out.