(Editor's Note: Since the start of free agency on March 10, the Cowboys have seen a few players leave, but have been active in trying to fill those voids, along with others. This week, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the comings and goings for the Cowboys here in free agency. Today, we will continue with the defensive end position.)
IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys had a pair of defensive ends hit the mark on March 10 and while they let one go and the other has yet to sign, they found a way to upgrade the position in a tremendous way.
The signing of Greg Hardy should bolster the entire defense and give the Cowboys a legitimate pass-rusher when he's available to play. There could be a potential suspension for Hardy stemming from a domestic violence charge that put him on the Commissioner's exempt list for most of 2014.
This could be a positon that will see more changes in the next few weeks, but for now, it's been altered enough to evaluate the Lost & Found.
What They've Done:
What the Cowboys gain in Hardy makes it almost unfair to compare him to George Selvie, who is a different type of defensive end. Selvie did have seven sacks in 2013 while playing for an injured Anthony Spencer, but his strength is stopping the run. Selvie had only three sacks in 2014, to go along with 31 tackles. Hardy recorded one sack in just one game, coming off a 15-sack season in 2013. Hardy is a beast to block and it'll take more than just one lineman to stop him. That really wasn't the case for Selvie, who often came off the field on third downs. While the Cowboys will need to figure out who can stop the run at end, getting a top-line pass-rusher is more than a fair trade.
What They're Worth:
Both players received just a one-year deal, and they could potentially be vastly different. That will depend on the amount of games Hardy plays in 2014. Selvie's contract is worth $975,000 in base and is overall just a $1.2 million cap hit. Even if Hardy plays all 16 games, which is unlikely, his cap charge to the Cowboys in 2015 will be $3.25 million, with a lot of his incentives rolling over into 2016. Hardy can potentially earn $13 million if he plays every game and spends the offseason here in Dallas working out with the club. But if all of that happens, the Cowboys have the ability to land one of the most dominating defensive players in the game. With that, their low-risk, high-reward deal could be a win-win for both Hardy and the Cowboys.
How They Fit:
All teams are looking for a player to get off the edge and attack the quarterback. Hardy has 34 career sacks in 63 games played, including 27 in his last 32 games played. He's a rare talent that is hard to duplicate, much less block. Of course, he's got off-the-field baggage that must be cleaned up before he has a shot to contribute. If that happens, he could be one of the final pieces to a Cowboys defense that played well in 2014, but just lacked an elite pass-rusher. Selvie's run-stopping ability on first and second downs will be missed and the Cowboys need to find a player who can hold his own like that, but with Jeremy Mincey and Hardy both being solid run defenders, the Cowboys should be fine in replacing that aspect.
Again, it's not a fair comparison to strictly look at both Selvie and Hardy and weigh the two sides. But for now, that's how the defensive end position has been addressed for the Cowboys. They lost a solid veteran player who was a good locker-room presence and added a potential game-changing defensive end that could be facing a suspension. If both players live up to on-field expectations, the Cowboys have a chance to get a major upgrade, without a major hit on this year's cap.