The Dallas Cowboys are doing everything in their power to soften the PR hit of signing defensive end Greg Hardy to an incentive-laden, one-year contract.
It’s this PR spin that has the NFL world abuzz. Hardy, who is coming off a major legal issue stemming from an alleged domestic assault on his ex-girlfriend, played in just one game last season after being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List following Week 1.
That didn’t stop the Cowboys from taking a chance on Hardy—a chance the team seems to be defending at every turn.
"He’s paid a terrific price,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Pro Football Talk Live. “Had he not had this incident his contract would be one like Ndamukong Suh, possibly, but he doesn’t have that. So he’s got more to come because the league is going to rule on if he has suspensions this year. All of that is all incorporated in that agreement and the bottom line is we hope and feel that he won’t do that, go down this road again.”
Jones is 100 percent correct in assuming that Hardy missed out on a huge payday due to his off-field issues. Flush with elite pass-rush talent, the former sixth-round pick recorded 26 sacks in the two seasons prior to 2014. Despite being scheme specific (4-3), there’s no reason to believe Hardy wouldn’t have received a deal similar to the five-year, $45 million contract Jerry Hughes signed with the Buffalo Bills earlier this month.
However, by virtue of being placed on the commissioner’s exempt list last season, Hardy received a $13.1 million salary while not actually playing football.
Hardy’s one-year deal with the Cowboys is not guaranteed. If something else comes up off the field, Dallas can get out from under the deal without paying him. On the other hand, Hardy can earn $11.3 million if he stays out of trouble and produces on the field.
Not sure how that’s considered “paying a terrific price.”