A team kicking the tires on a veteran NFL defensive end who has 40 sacks in five years is definitely understandable. But when you add serious domestic assault violations to the player’s resume, the fans of that team become a little less forgiving, and the criticism by fans of other teams becomes ruthless. So it is in the case of Greg Hardy.
Greg Hardy works out for Jaguars, Redskins
This off-season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have exhausted every effort to improve the team’s pass rush, and bringing in Greg Hardy for a look is amongst those efforts. Even though the team says it has no plans to sign Hardy, the fact that he set foot in Duval County had the city abuzz.
Given the allegations waged against him, any team he visits will be thrust onto the hot seat, into the criticism limelight. Just ask the Washington Redskins, who recently brought Hardy in as well.
Time to Take Steps Forward in Jacksonville
The Jags know it’s now or never. Gus Bradley knows it’s now or never. With 12 wins in three seasons, Bradley must lead a defense that hits the quarterback and takes him to the ground with the ball in his hand.
The Jags were 20th in doing that last season, and the team had to know if Hardy can help boost the team sack numbers from 36, to the mid or upper 40s, which is where the league leaders normally stand.
Hardy had 15 sacks in 16 games for the Carolina Panthers in 2013, and hasn’t come close to that total since. Teams like the Jaguars and Redskins took a look at Hardy because it’s their job to do so. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said as much, that they needed to know if Hardy could make their team better.
Hardy hasn’t had a full season since that 2013 season in which he notched a career high. Now it’s unclear what Hardy can do on the field. He had six sacks for the Dallas Cowboys last year, amid rampant warranted criticism from media and fans. The distractions of playing for Dallas weighed on him heavily.
It’s easy to speculate the thought process of Caldwell and Bradley. Now there’s nothing to do except wait to see what the team from Jacksonville and teams from around the league decide to do.
So far, it doesn’t appear as though the Jaguars will be inviting Hardy to training camp. But the consideration shows that Bradley knows he is out of the door if the team doesn’t go 10-6. Since everyone in the league is throwing the ball around like it’s on fire, the team will need to average more than half a sack per contest to reach double-digit wins.
While Hardy remains a free agent, the Redskins and the Jaguars probably aren’t the only teams who will give the man a call. Perhaps the allegations against Hardy will push too hard against the clean image the Jaguars built under the previous regime.
But don’t be surprised if Hardy suits up in the teal and black, especially if it becomes evident that Dante Fowler Jr. and draft pick Yannik Ngakoue aren’t ready yet. Nobody wants to say it, but Hardy might still have an all-pro year left in him. Any team willing to take the public relations risk won’t have to pay very much money for that type of potential.
ORCHARD PARK, NY – DECEMBER 27: Greg Hardy #76 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up before the start of their game against the Buffalo Bills during NFL game action at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)