A host of NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora, Rand Getlin, Mike Florio, and the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, all reported that the Seahawks will host free agent defensive end Greg Hardy this week, but the team has subsequently denied a visit is on the books. According to the team, "they are just doing their 'due diligence' in exploring options with Hardy."
Regardless, it's a noteworthy development, as a good amount of NFL teams will not go near Hardy, who missed all but one game last season on the Commissioner's exempt list after being convicted by a judge of assault for attacking his girlfriend. Hardy appealed the conviction and asked for a jury trial but the charges were dropped when the accuser could not be found. It's still unclear what punishment the NFL will hand down, but obviously, if Seattle were to sign Hardy, it could create a public relations storm.
Any team willing to sign Hardy also must be willing to accept that he'll be suspended a good portion of the 2015 season. As Jason La Canfora wrote this morning,
Hardy, an unrestricted free agent, is on the Commissioner's Exempt List, where he was stationed virtually all of last season, when he was paid his normal wages to stay away from the Carolina Panthers while his pending trial played out (it was, again, settled out of court). Hardy could be signed to a contract at any time now while the NFL examines whether he will face additional discipline, but to this point no team has come close to that given all of the uncertainty that reigns.
Will he sit for six games? Twelve games? A season? At least some sort of suspension is coming -- virtually everyone I spoke to agreed -- given the NFL's stance on these issues and its handling of Adrian Peterson following his child abuse charges (he still cannot be eligible for reinstatement until mid-April as the league appeals a federal court decision that went against the NFL). But how long?
So, why would the Seahawks take a shot on a guy with Hardy's off-field issues? Well, as Albert Breer pointed out on twitter this morning, "He's 26 years old, [and has] 27 sacks in his last 29 games. Guys like that aren't available much. By comparison, fellow UFA Jerry Hughes is also 26, had 19 sacks in last 29 games. Tagged Jason Pierre-Paul is 26, has 14.5 sacks in his last 29 games."
Hughes got $45 million over five years from the Bills, and JPP is playing on the franchise tag for $14.5M this year. Hardy, because of the assault charge and impending suspension, will likely be available at a significant discount to those numbers.
Additionally, this Hardy news seems connected to the report that Michael Bennett wants a trade out of Seattle, and if that trade report did end up being true, the Seahawks could see Hardy as a potential replacement. Don't you just love the offseason?
In other news, the Seahawks are set to host free agent defensive end Anthony Spencer and defensive tackle Chris Canty. Spencer is a guy that I highlighted a few weeks ago when talking about a few value players the Seahawks could pursue.
Here's what I wrote:
Anthony Spencer, Cowboys 6'3, 265 31 years old
Spencer came on strong for the Cowboys late last year, notching seven QB pressures and a sack in the Dalals' two playoff games. He's a long ways out from a knee microfracture surgery that limited him early last season, but I had heard that he was on Seattle's radar (the Cowboys guys at Blogging the Boys confirmed this) going into 2013 before he was franchise tagged for a second time by Dallas. So, it's been a while, but it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks still like him in their scheme.
Chris Canty, Ravens 6'7, 313 32 years old
Canty was released by the Ravens after the season so he would not count against the compensatory pick formula. The 6'7, 313 pounder has played 11 seasons in the NFL and despite pondering retirement this year, had apparently been training with the goal of coming back for his 12th. If the Seahawks were interested, it'd again be in the same role as a base-down run stopper in the Kevin WIlliams/Tony McDaniel mold, and both Langford and Canty provide that thing that Seattle has seemed to like so much in their defensive linemen: Length. Canty has 6 pass deflections in the past two seasons, so he's good at getting his hands up into passing lanes and knocking down passes. He's also forced three fumbles.