Some teams are staying away from free agent Greg Hardy.
Hardy, the young, stellar defensive end of the Carolina Panthers is one of the NFL’s best at his position. But the Panthers say they won’t re-sign him because of a domestic violence issue for which he was put on the commissioner’s exempt list in 2014. He played just one game, then had to sit out the remainder of the season while still being paid.
According to the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, a district judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend at his home last May. The misdemeanor charges were eventually dismissed on appeal, however, when prosecutors couldn’t find the ex-girlfriend to testify.
Now, many teams have decided they don’t want to pursue Hardy because of the case. And the NFL still may suspend Hardy, possibly up to six games. So any team signing him may lose him for some period of time in 2015.
San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke, for instance, told the Sacramento Bee this week that “there is no interest that we’ve shown, nor will we show, in bringing in Greg Hardy.”
However the Raiders apparently are exploring their options with Hardy.
Tweeted Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post and NBC Radio late Thursday: “Hearing Greg Hardy in discussions with Raiders. I would say 60-40 he gets a deal with Oakland.” Later, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Wilkening wrote that he, too, had confirmed the two sides were negotiating.
From a pure football standpoint, Hardy is a rare talent. He’s just 26 years old and had 26 sacks over the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The 6-foot-4, 279-pounder from Mississippi was a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in the 2010 draft and has been a starter since 2011, one of the key players on a strong defensive unit. In 2013, he had 15 sacks and was in on 65 tackles.
Should the Raiders sign Hardy, they’d be getting an impact player who could have several high-level seasons in front of him. But, he’d come with baggage and the possible suspension. His signing might be a tough sell to the public – or maybe not. An unscientific poll conducted on the Raiders fan website Just Blog Baby, posted Thursday, had fans voting 92 percent to 8 percent in favor of signing Hardy as of Friday morning.