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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Market Value and Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy recently turned down an $8 million a year deal to extend (4 years, $32 million), in what would've been Dave Gettleman's first long term lockdown.

Hardy and new agent Drew Rosenhaus (who regularly took Marty Hurney's lunch money) vetoed the deal, and rightly so.  Hardy's single great year was pretty good.  Of course, free agency, especially on the high end, likes the last year production.  Fiscally, it makes less sense.

I could argue the pros and cons of the move - clearly, Hardy has value.  His 11 sacks helped put he and already-well-paid Charles Johnson as the 2nd best sack producing duo in the league last year (Aldon Smith, Justin Smith) and the top end duo for sack production.  PFF has their overall hurry and sack numbers very high as well.

Johnson's done it without an elite player across from him - his 2010, 2011 seasons were almost as good, and didn't feature anyone over 5 sacks around him.  But - at this point, is tying up money in an additional end a smart thing to do?  That money could go to a lot of things.

As well, is it old thinking to do so?
Set aside whether the next staff is going to come sooner rather than later; set aside whether that means scheme change (an aside - a core of Johnson, Star Lotulelei, and Kawann Short would make an ideal one-gap 3-4, and I don't see Luke Kuechly suffering for it, either - the truth is, Carolina's front remains as versatile as ever).

The 2007-2010 Giants had a ton of ends. And that worked.  But teams have adjusted, and consequently it's vogue to draft the speedy, 250 lb guys.  Some of them are playing in the 3-4, sure.  But for every Aldon Smith there's a Bruce Irvin playing the 4-3.

Now, on a cash-strapped team like Carolina you could make an argument either way - that dropping a top 15 pick as both Smith and Irvin were, to replace a player you could simply keep, isn't fiscally that smart.  Of course, you might be picking up an edge rusher that complements CJ better than Hardy, but right now I think that's a wash.  Both get there easily enough.

But does a lighter end who works upfield fast and plays like a LB work well in the next iteration of the NFL as well?  The crash scrape exchange for the end/LB to play the read option is definitely better in the smaller end ideal; I don't know if ends have to be 290 lbs the way that Carolina's are.

I still feel like retaining Hardy can be vital - bringing back an entire starting DL and having a key reserve DT, in front of an already-penciled-in LB unit for next year that can lose Thomas Davis if needed and still thrive (I would, essentially, expect Davis to have to rework his deal significantly again to stay).   That leaves most of the work to the OL and secondary, where it belongs.

But, it can't come at a massive price.  If $8 million won't do it, I'd go an extra year, tack on a mil and change, and throw him a 5 year, $47 million deal.  And then I'd be willing to let him walk.

That said, if this deal was rejected around the Giants' game, it's hard to say what will happen - Hardy hasn't scored a sack this year in any other game.

Another view may be that, with the trade deadline of 10/29 coming up, games against the Vikings (1-3), Rams (2-3), and Buccaneers (0-4) are all played between now and then; that also gives a few weeks to eval Hardy, or trade him.  If Carolina can't be at least 2-1 in this part of the schedule, is there any hope for a good season?  0-3 in that span leaves the team 1-6; 2-1, of course, 3-4 and in the back row of contenders.  If this season's a wash, and you already know what you won't spend on Hardy, maybe a 2nd round pick isn't the worst way to go.
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