According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, several teammates who had previously supported Hardy “began to sour on him late in the season.”
That’s partly because Hardy was high-maintenance, with Garrett having to meet with him four times about his off-field distractions, and also because of his “perpetual tardiness for team meetings never resulted in a reduction of playing time.”
He reportedly was respectful when they talked to him about changing, but never bothered to change.
As a result, he became an expensive headache for them. Between his suspension and the fact he didn’t hit any of his sack incentives (finishing with six), Hardy made around $8.8 million for a season in which they spent far too much time discussing things not football regarding him.
Early in the year, when he was getting sacks, ownership talked openly of him being “real leader” and wanting to commit to him long-term.
But since he had just 1.5 sack over the last six weeks of the season, that talk seems to have cooled.
Hardy, as is his custom, seemed oblivious to the talk. Asked if he’d like to return to the team, he replied: “I look good in blue and white, let’s be honest.”
His contract doesn’t allow the Cowboys to use the franchise tag on him this year, but nothing about his play indicated they should. And that means they either sign up for another year of distraction, or wait for someone else to take the chance.