The Oakland Raiders are reportedly talking to free agent defensive end Greg Hardy. Despite being one of the best players on the free agent market, there has been almost no love for Hardy during the first three days of free agency and for obvious reasons. Hardy was accused of some pretty horrific things last year when reports surfaced that he threw his then-girlfriend onto a couch covered with guns and choked her. The charges were eventually dropped after the prosecutors could not locate her to testify against Hardy.
Since then, he was deactivated by his former team (the Carolina Panthers) and eventually placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. While it has not been announced yet, there is undoubtedly a suspension coming in 2015.
Given his baggage and the fact that he will likely miss time next season, many teams are wary of Hardy and the Raiders were thought to be one of the last teams that would be interested in him. When the Ray Rice incident happened last season, Mark Davis was one of the only owners to come out and emphatically state that he wouldn’t accept that kind of thing on his team. A big part of the reason for that stance is due to the fact that former Raider great Fred Belitnikoff lost his daughter to a domestic violence incident that took her life.
While his father was notorious for giving anyone a second chance, Mark Davis was apparently never going to be OK with domestic violence. When he fired former head coach Tom Cable, he noted the fact that he was accused of hitting significant others, but never mentioned the fact that he had knocked out one of his own assistant coaches.
Hearing Greg Hardy in discussions with Raiders. I would say 60-40 he gets a deal with Oakland. #NFLFreeAgency
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 13, 2015
It was assumed that the Raiders would not go anywhere near Hardy, but after the team failed to sign any of the elite talents in free agency — missing on Randall Cobb, Ndamukong Suh and DeMarco Murray — the team finds itself in a position where it needs to spend money … possibly even on players with issues like Hardy.
So far, there are only rumors that the Raiders are talking with Hardy and nothing has implicated that they are close to a deal. The talks are no doubt surrounding his domestic violence issues since no one questions whether or not Hardy (who had 26 sacks in 2012-13) is a talented player. He’s in the photo above, ending Carson Palmer’s 2012 season (and his time with the Raiders) with a hit that broke the quarterback’s ribs and bruised his lung.
General manager Reggie McKenzie has always said that he wanted guys with good character on his team but that he is also willing to consider people with a flawed history if they show that they are willing to change. In 2013, the Raiders drafted defensive tackle Stacy McGee who had run ins with the law, saying that in their pre draft interview, McGee convinced them that he was willing to make a change for the better.
The problem is, McGee only had issues with marijuana, a non violent offense that most are willing to overlook. With Hardy, the baggage is much heavier and the Raiders will likely only sign him with a contract that includes protections in case he has another domestic violence incident.