August 24, 2016 - Joe Mason
Three Potential Landing Spots for Greg Hardy
As the regular season draws closer, one big name free agent is still sitting on the open market, defensive end Greg Hardy. Despite his struggles, which include lackluster play during his one season in Dallas and his continued misbehavior on and off the field, which he has been in counseling to deal with, Hardy is still a 28-year old with 40 sacks in his career (27 of which came in his last two full seasons) in a pass happy league that craves pass rushers. Despite that, the Cowboys let him walk, the Redskins decided not to take a flier on him after another season-ending injury to linebacker Junior Gallette and there hasn’t been much of a market for him to this point. While things can certainly change in a hurry thanks to injuries or teams seeing that their current crop of sack artists don’t quite live up to the hype, there are three spots right now that make sense for Hardy and his potential suitor. First up are the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite having a defensive-minded coach in Gus Bradley, the Jaguars only mustered 36 sacks last season (ranked 20th in the league). It’s true that last year’s first round pick Dante Fowler is back from injury, but if he isn’t 100 percent or gets injured again, the Jags will be in need of help off the edge. They’ve already had Hardy in for a fact finding workout, but they don’t have immediate plans to sign him. The Jags have an offense poised to score a lot of points, but they need to be able to stop teams too. With their sack numbers seemingly tied to the health of Fowler, Hardy makes sense here. Next up are the Buffalo Bills, whose putrid sack total of 21 ranked them 31st in the league. Head Coach Rex Ryan and his brother, Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, certainly wouldn’t shy away from a controversial player, especially if they thought he could help. After all, Ik Enemkpali was signed by the Bills after he was released by the Jets following his cold-cocking of Geno Smith. The Bills are also dealing with key injuries to top draft picks Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland, further weakening an already suspect defense. Looking at the team on paper, Hardy’s potential for disrupting offensive backfields is sorely needed in Buffalo. Finally, you have a team that is always a dark horse candidate, but really shouldn’t be with their history of taking fliers on players others thought were washed up physically or mentally; the New England Patriots. It usually doesn’t matter who they bring into the fold, with the way the team is run, everyone on the roster ends up doing things the “Patriot Way” very successfully. Randy Moss was seemingly done after two sub-par years in Oakland, but then came to the Patriots in 2007 and caught 98 passes for almost 1,500 yards and 23 touchdowns. Corey Dillon wore out his welcome in Cincinnati, but came to the Patriots in 2004, rushing for almost 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns. While the Patriots 49 sacks last year were second best in the league, 12.5 of those were traded to the Arizona Cardinals in the form of Chandler Jones. With nobody else in double digits, the Pats could find a spot for Hardy. While it may take some time, the NFL is a league of many second chances (if you can still play) and Hardy is likely to get his.