Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy saw his 10 game suspension reduced to four games today, which will have major financial impacts for both he and the Cowboys. Hardy had signed a one year, incentive laden contract with Dallas this offseason worth $11.3 million with another $1.8 million available in incentives.
The total value at the time was to mimic Hardy’s franchise tag contract with the Panthers in 2014, when he spent most of the season on the exempt list. Under a 10 game suspension most of that money would have been lost to Hardy. His max compensation would have been $5.04 million, assuming he was active for all six games. Now he can earn $8.8 million in regular salary and the incentives may be possible to still reach. Under the 10 game suspensio there could also have been threats of a release if Dallas’ season went poorly since Hardy was simply a hired gun for a one year playoff run. That threat is now reduced since he’ll be with the team from week 5 onward.
Hardy, his agent, and the NFLPA are considering taking the case further into the court system to try to eliminate the suspension entirely. That would restore his contract to it’s full value and give him a very strong chance at earning the full $13.1 million available to him. Right now he will lose about 22% of the base contract value from the suspension, which is significant and a reason to pursue. I would imagine that the NFLPA is also looking for a trial situation to move beyond the CBA process and this is a good opportunity to do so.
Hardy currently counts for just $3.2 million on the Cowboys salary cap. When his suspension occurs in week 1 that number will reduce to $3.04 million and then increase throughout the year to the full $8.8 million, assuming he is healthy for the 12 games he is not suspended for. Dallas currently has $11.3 million in cap room, which is just enough to probably cover the contract if earned in full. If Hardy’s suspension is eliminated Dallas would likely need to tweak a contract by late in the season.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.