Cowboys' reward of Greg Hardy comes with good, bad

IRVING, Texas -- Not even a week ago, the Dallas Cowboys said goodbye to DeMarco Murray, unwilling to bend financially for the NFL's offensive player of the year and franchise-record holder in rushing yards in a season.

On Wednesday, they welcomed defensive end Greg Hardy with a one-year deal worth $11.3 million, with the chance to increase to $13.1 million, according to a source.

The Cowboys' final offer to Murray included $12 million guaranteed. Hardy can make more than that in one season.

Coach Jason Garrett wanted Murray to remain with the Cowboys in the worst way. Garrett lauded Murray publicly and lobbied for him privately. In the end, all the lobbying in the world couldn't budge the Cowboys close to what the Philadelphia Eagles offered.

And now he is welcoming Hardy, who brings with him a lot of baggage with a past that does not suggest he is the "right kind of guy," even in the specific definitions Garrett has used in the past. His definition is not about being a Boy Scout. It's mostly about having the right work ethic and making sure the player loves football.

Last year a judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, but the verdict was set aside when Hardy requested a jury trial. Charges were dropped when Holder refused to cooperate with the district attorney's office after receiving a financial settlement from Hardy.

The Cowboys used the visit with Hardy the past two days to get to know the Pro Bowl defensive end. They had already wrapped their arms around his off-field transgressions and potential suspension by the league. But they wanted to get to know the individual the way they will get to know the potential draft picks who will come to Valley Ranch next month.

With the deal completed, clearly the Cowboys feel OK with that, too.

But they still don't know when he will be cleared by the NFL to play because he is on the commissioner's exempt list. He faces a possible suspension from the league for violating the personal conduct policy. A league spokesman said earlier Wednesday the case remains under review but they will make a decision on Hardy's status as soon as possible.

Murray had a historic season for the Cowboys in 2014. He ran for 1,845 yards. He was the heartbeat of the team, as Garrett said. He helped change the way the Cowboys played and they went 12-4, won the NFC East and were this close to making it to the NFC Championship Game.

But there was no reward for him. He played the wrong position. He missed too many games, even if he played a few days after having surgery to fix a broken hand.

Hardy gets the reward.

He can rush the passer. He can "affect the quarterback," as Garrett and the rest of his coaches like to say. He gives the Cowboys something they lacked last season when they picked up just 28 sacks.

It just further proves that running backs are easier to find, even if Murray had more value to the team beyond his statistics. There are not many pass-rushers on this earth who can fall out of bed and get double-digit sack totals. In his past two full seasons, Hardy has 26. On the field, he makes the Cowboys better.

Off the field, doubts will remain.