The Cowboys signed talented but troubled defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year contract on Wednesday. Dallas was 28th in the NFL in sacks in 2014 and Hardy, who is currently on the league’s exempt list and faces a possible suspension, is one of the league’s best pass rushers.
Here’s a sampling of national reaction to the Cowboys’ signing of the former Carolina Panther standout.
Yahoo!Sports.com: If Hardy can avoid a lengthy league suspension — it could be up to six games — and keep out of trouble in Dallas, he could be a star again. Hardy doesn’t turn 27 until the start of training camp and is the type of pass rusher the Cowboys need to make Rod Marinelli’s defense effective.
Bleacherreport.com: With what amounts to a full year away from football—and, thus, away from the training and other amenities of an NFL locker room—the spotlight will be equally bright for Hardy on and off the field. In every sense of the word, his new contract is a chance to prove that he is still one of the NFL’s best defensive ends and that he can stay out of trouble off the field. He also needs to prove the public outcry this contract will bring winds up paying dividends in December and January.
CBSSports.com: Hardy is immediately the best defensive lineman on the Cowboys, as he’d be on most teams. Above all else, he should help their lacking pass rush. The Cowboys had only 28 sacks last season, fifth-fewest in the league. While Hardy played mostly on the right side of the line with Carolina, he seems likely to slot in at the left defensive end spot in Dallas, where he’ll play across from Demarcus Lawrence, with Jeremy Mincey spelling both players.
Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus: The Cowboys added a major piece to their defensive line by signing defensive end Hardy to an incentive-laden, one-year contract. Hardy’s off-field issues have been well-documented, and that is a risk the Cowboys are taking on by signing him. Last season’s turmoil kept Hardy off the field for all but 57 snaps, but if he’s back to form, he’ll be a valuable addition for the Cowboys.
Chris Wesseling, NFL.com: Although Hardy brings excess baggage, he’s also a difference-making talent at a position of need in Dallas. From a pure football perspective, Hardy ranked behind only Ndamukong Suh and Darrelle Revis among all players to reach the open market. A team with expectations of playoff contention — such as Dallas — is better suited to withstand a potential early-season absence in the event of an NFL suspension.
Mark Maske, Washingtonpost.com: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wondered aloud last season whether the team’s decision the previous offseason to release top pass rusher DeMarcus Ware might end up costing the club a Super Bowl title. Jones and the Cowboys now have their pass rusher. Does that justify the move? That’s a question that the Cowboys, their fans and their business partners must answer for themselves.
Ben Eagle, SI.com: From a purely football perspective, this is a solid deal for the Cowboys. If he flames out, Dallas can cut bait with little consequence; if he posts another 15-sack season, it will cruise to the top of the NFC East. The downside for the Cowboys is that Hardy is bound to bolt town if he has a great year. The PR fallout is what knocks this grade down. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called domestic abuse “intolerable” just six months ago. Has his opinion now changed? This signing will help Dallas on the field, but it could be a hard sell to fans.
SBNation.com: With 26 sacks in 2012 and 2013, Hardy is a young, top-flight pass rusher with plenty of potential to be a star in his new setting; however, there is a certain amount of risk as well. The NFL still hasn’t decided if it will punish the defensive end, and if he is given the baseline six-game suspension for a domestic abuse violation, he would be subject to a lifetime ban from the NFL if he commits another violation.
Expert opinions, analysis
The Hardy file
(Courtesy of SportsDayDFW.com)