Could Cincinnati Bengals Make a Run at Free Agent DE Greg Hardy?


The Cincinnati Bengals finished last in the NFL with just 20 sacks in 2014, and pass-rushing defensive end is high on their list of targets fro the off-season.   One big name whose future was uncertain is now a sure bet to become available when free agency opens on March 10, as Bill Voth at the Black and Blue Review reports that the Carolina Panthers plan to cut ties with Greg Hardy

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Hardy was placed on the Commissioner-Exempt list last fall after a conviction for domestic violence, and pending his appeal of the criminal case.  Though charges were dropped in February when the the plaintiff could not be located, it’s still not clear whether or not Hardy will face additional punishment (he missed 15 games without pay in 2014) by the NFL.

What is clear now is that the Panthers will not make an attempt to resign the soon-to-be 27-year-old who recorded 15 sacks in 2013 and has 34 for his career.  With Carolina out of the picture, several teams will have strong interest in Hardy, who will be one of the top two or three DEs on the market, along with Jason Pierre-Paul and Jerry Hughes.

Pierre-Paul will likely end up back with the New York Giants, and teams may be wary of Hughes, a disappointment in three years with the Indianapolis Colts but a standout with the Buffalo Bills.

That could move Hardy to the top of the list, but any type of suspension would obviously dampen his value, and the specter of domestic violence could make him an uncomfortable fit for some teams.

Would the Bengals take the plunge, after having shed much of the bad-boy image that plagued them for a decade?

Considering that the pass-rush was one of Cincinnati’s true few weaknesses in 2014, Hardy will be a tempting target, particularly if his PR problems force him to accept a discounted contract.   It won’t be at all surprising if the Bengals pursue him hard, and he could very well make a difference for a four-time one-and-out playoff team.

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