Now that the domestic violence case against Greg Hardy has been suddenly dismissed, he definitely has an NFL future somewhere.
But I do not believe it should be in Charlotte. I don't think he should ever play for the Carolina Panthers again.
Hardy is a free man, yes, and he will be on the open market March 10th when the NFL's free agency period begins. He is 26, in what should be the prime of his career. And he had 15 sacks in 2013 -- the last time he played a full year in the NFL.
But to me, Hardy is too much of a risk for a big contract, and the emotional baggage he carries is too considerable for the Panthers to lock into any sort of financial agreement with him again as they think about their offseason plan.
Somebody is going to pay him. It shouldn't be the Panthers.
Hardy was supposed to go on trial -- again -- on misdemeanor domestic violence charges Monday. Instead, the case fell apart and was dismissed when the prosecution could not secure the cooperation of Nicole Holder, Hardy's former girlfriend and the woman who originally charged him.
District attorney Andrew Murray said in court that his office believed Holder and Hardy had reached a financial settlement. In a press release, the DA's office also said: "The victim appears to have intentionally made herself unavailable to the State. The DA's Office has also been made aware that the victim has reached a civil settlement with Mr. Hardy."
And, the DA's office said, "Without her testimony, in this particular instance, the State could not proceed." The DA's office had all sorts of trouble finding the elusive Holder, apparently, although it's pretty hard to believe in this day and age she could not be found -- even though she obviously didn't want to be found.
This doesn't mean for sure Hardy won't be suspended by the NFL, but I think it's likely he will not be. Roger Goodell could suspend him for detrimental conduct, I suppose, but legally his record is now clear.
So why not have Hardy apologize to Jerry Richardson and his teammates, fall on whatever type of sword a Kraken carries and then simply come back to Carolina at a reasonable price?
Because I don't think he can be trusted, and ultimately I don't think the price will be that reasonable.
Look at how last year turned out. The Panthers paid Hardy $13.1 million, effectively hijacking their own salary cap, and he played in one game. Not because of an injury he couldn't help, but because of an off-field issue. If this were going to be settled out of court, I am sure every Panther fan is asking why it wasn't settled before the 2014 season rather than after it concluded.
The Panthers' defense did OK without Hardy, finishing No. 10 in total defense last season. As a team, with No.76 on the field, it's undeniable they are better. Carolina could technically use another one-year franchise tag on him, this time at a price of $15.7 million.
But it's not always just about talent. Somebody is going to take a risk on Hardy, because NFL teams are desperate for pass rushers in their prime.
The Panthers, though, already know how that can turn out. After Monday, Hardy is free to go elsewhere. And that is exactly what he should do.
Joe Person on Greg Hardy's future:
1 year ago