The Cowboys have said they anticipated a suspension for defensive end Greg Hardy, but recent history and their own moves indicate that they might have overestimated his potential ability and availability this season.
Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com raises a valid point, that Hardy’s 25-game absence from football would make it extremely difficult for him to have any kind of meaningful impact on the field.
Hardy played in just one game last year before spending the next 15 on the commissioner’s exempt list, and his 10-game suspension this year would mean a long stretch of not playing football (He can still participate in the offseason, training camp and preseason games).
He’s a productive pass-rusher when eligible, with 15.0 sacks the last time he played a full season.
But the history of 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith shows it’s not always easy to flip the switch back on.
Prior to his nine-game suspension last year, Smith was one of the most destructive pass-rushers in the game, with 42.0 sacks in his first 43 games. When he returned to the team midseason, he had just 2.0 sacks the rest of the way.
Unless Hardy’s immune to rust or the suspension is significantly shortened, it’s hard to see how he’s going to hit any of his incentives (which start at 8.0 sacks)
And that’s the kind of impact the Cowboys were hoping for when they signed him, and let lesser players (such as Anthony Spencer and George Selvie) walk in free agency. That could significantly change their draft plans, and might be part of the reason they’re hesitant to give up draft picks to obtain Adrian Peterson, knowing they need those picks to find someone to help them rush the passer for most of the season.