Greg Hardy has said all of the right things about wanting to come back. His bosses, from owner Jerry Jones to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, have done the same. And even Dez Bryant has gone public in support of bringing the gifted-but-controversial free-agent pass-rusher back to Dallas.
But sources tell CowboysHQ.com that Dallas has decided it is "done'' with Hardy, a decision that culminates with concerns about what CHQ has delicately described as "The Uptown Flu.''
Hardy is just two years removed from having been an All-Pro in Carolina. Talent-wise, he may return to that level. But he's conceded to me that he knows he's unlikely to return to that level in terms of his salary due to his domestic-violence case -- so the chance at a $100-million contract is slipping in general. And it's gone in Dallas ... as is any other chance at returning to a place he says fits him because "Let's face it, I look good in blue and white.''
There were times when Hardy "looked good.'' But he totaled just six sacks in his partial season (earning $8.8 million) and off the field he was high-maintenance. Jones and coach Jason Garrett met with him numerous times to discuss his off-field behavior and the potential distractions they caused. (That includes even his first press conference at Valley Ranch, which got twisted into headline porn but nevertheless concerned management.) Tardiness was a part of that, and teammate Jeremy Mincey -- who counts Hardy as a friend -- has gone on the record to suggest that Hardy's tardiness chipped away at the foundation of the locker room.
As much as it might eventually get spun this way, the Cowboys aren't making a "moral judgment'' here in regard to the domestic-violence situation. And while there is almost always a "threshold'' at which a team can put up with a problem -- meaning, in this case, if Hardy is available at some ridiculously cheap price -- it usually seems wise to be in that "Never-Say-Never'' Club. Remember, Dallas was not interested in Hardy last year as a tier-one free agent but swooped in quickly when he slipped a tier. Nevertheless, "done'' is a strong statement.
This spring, the Cowboys will attempt to repeat some of its same success in free agency in search of pass-rush help that is more impactful than Hardy was late last year; he earned just 1.5 sacks in the last six weeks of the season. You can peruse our NFL Free Agency Database for a who's who.) But they will attempt to do it without the drama.
And according to sources, they will go shopping with a list that doesn't include Greg Hardy, with whom they are "done.''