IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys have signed Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy to a one-year contract after two days of negotiations.
The deal comes after a lengthy conversation between the two sides. Hardy visited the Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility on Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight in Dallas before hammering out the terms on Wednesday. The move completes a whirlwind negotiation, as the Cowboys were first reported to be interested in Hardy on Monday and inked him to a contract on Wednesday.
This is undoubtedly the biggest signing of the Cowboys' free agency window to this point. Dallas negotiated deals with veteran starters like Darren McFadden and Jasper Brinkley last week, but Hardy is another category.
Carolina drafted him out of Ole Miss in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and he has since jumped into the elite of NFL pass rushers. His 2012 and 2013 seasons have been his most impressive, as he notched 11 and 15 sacks, respectively, in back-to-back years.
Legal issues have clouded Hardy's career – both on and off the field – in the past year, which helps explain the reduced price tag for a pass rusher with 27 sacks in his past 32 games.
The five-year veteran was charged with assaulting and communicating threats to his then-girlfriend last summer, and after playing one game in 2014 he was placed on the commissioner's exempt list – effectively ending his season, though keeping him on the Panthers' payroll.
The charges against Hardy were dismissed last month after his accuser in the case failed to testify. That won't necessarily preclude any punishment from the NFL, however. He is currently still on the commissioner's exempt list and needs to be reinstated. It's widely expected he'll be given a four-to-six game suspension by the league for his infractions.
The decision to sign Hardy finally gives the Cowboys some answers at one of their biggest spots of need – defensive end. Dallas notched just 28 total sacks as a defense last fall, fifth-worst in the NFL. Their leader in sacks, Jeremy Mincey, only managed six.
The addition of Hardy gives the Cowboys three quality options on the outside of their defensive line. Both Mincey and DeMarcus Lawrence, the No. 34 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, return from last season and can help complement Hardy. The Cowboys may also choose to bring back less expensive veterans like Anthony Spencer, George Selvie or others to help bolster depth.
A high-profile pass rusher like Hardy may also alleviate the pressure to draft a defensive end with the No. 27 pick in next month's draft. The Cowboys could still use a boost at defensive tackle, and running back and cornerback appear to be positions of need.
Cowboys Sign Greg Hardy