Here’s a troubling question for all Dallas Cowboys fans: Do you honestly want newly signed defensive end Greg Hardy to actually put together a dominant season in 2015?
I know what you’re thinking; this guy’s off his rocker! Why in the world would he be asking an asinine question like this? Fair to a degree, I suppose, but hear me out first…
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Does anyone remember what happened with the splash free-agent the Dallas Cowboys signed just last offseason? Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Henry Melton, signed a one-year incentive-laced contract with Dallas. Most folks refer to these deals as “bet-on-me” contracts, because the player is betting on himself to meet all, or most of the incentives, all while staying on the field.
Melton played out his one-year contract, but he didn’t meet the high expectations set for himself after recovering from knee surgery while with Chicago in 2013. The Cowboys then chose not to pick up his hefty three-year option, and he just recently signed another one-year contract in free agency with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now that you’re refreshed, we can turn our attention to new Dallas Cowboys defensive end, Greg Hardy.
Much like Melton in 2014, Hardy arrives in Dallas after signing a one-year incentive-laced, bet-on-me contract. Unlike Melton, of course, Hardy is not coming off serious knee surgery. Hardy arrives in Dallas with a clean bill of health, but a laundry list character concerns and legal troubles.
So ask yourself this: what happens if Hardy disappoints in 2015? What if he doesn’t have the dominant season most are expecting him to have? What if he is suspended for nearly half the season? What if gets injured?
If any of these scenarios played out, Hardy would likely move on elsewhere in 2016. No harm, no foul. No cap penalty either. Almost like it never happened. The pass rush would likely take a severe hit with Hardy underperforming, but lesson learned.
That’s precisely why the front office stuffed all those playing time gifts, per game bonuses, and sack incentives into Hardy’s deal. If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t get paid. Simple as that.
Now, what if Hardy blows the doors off this Dallas pass rush in 2015? What if he starts every game, plays well, and reaches his 14-sack incentive, earning his full potential $13.1 million?
If this scenario plays out, all those wanting Hardy to play in Dallas long-term most likely will not be getting his or her wish. Why? Hardy’s price tag on a multi-year deal, after a dominant 2015 season, would be pretty darn expensive.
Now if Hardy impresses, it would also give Dallas another year to find DeMarcus Lawrence’s bookend, pass rush buddy, while alleviating some of the pressure off Lawrence and/or a rookie pass rusher in 2015.
So, you could lock Hardy up for the foreseeable future, but at what price? And at what cost to the remainder of the roster? The list of 2016 free agents includes defensive end Jeremy Mincey, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, and possibly even Dez Bryant if he plays out the 2015 season on the franchise tag, among others.
What I’m getting at is, either way, I don’t see Greg Hardy in the plans for 2016 and beyond. If Hardy has a bad season or is injured and/or suspended for the bulk of the season, he moves on. If he has a great season, the pass rush will have greatly improved for one season, but his price tag would skyrocket.
Ideally, maybe, fans would want Hardy to have just an average season in 2015. That way, the pass rush still improves, but Hardy’s price tag stays at a manageable cost, allowing him to return to Dallas for the next few years.
It’s kind of weird thing to wish for, but it makes sense. Look what happened with DeMarco Murray and his record-setting 2014 season. Murray got too expensive, and now we have to play against him twice a year.
It’s funny I mentioned Henry Melton earlier; what if Melton had put together a dominant season in 2014 and met his incentives with a high sack total? Dallas would have likely picked up his expensive three-year option, and who knows if Hardy even winds up in Dallas? The irony is real folks.
So, I ask the question again; do you want Greg Hardy to put together a dominant 2015 season? Now…it’s fair question.