That clears the way for Hardy to be very much in demand when free agency opens March 10. Hardy and Jason Pierre-Paul are expected to be the top two defensive ends on the market.
The Buccaneers have a glaring need for an outside pass rusher. That begs the question of if Tampa Bay will make a play for Hardy. His skills are obvious, and he’d be an instant upgrade over Michael Johnson and the rest of Tampa Bay’s defensive ends.
But there are several factors that could work against Hardy. First, he’ll be expensive. Hardy is likely to command an annual salary of more than $10 million per season.
Second, he comes with baggage. Even though the charges were dropped, any team interested in Hardy would have to be concerned about off-field issues.
Hardy still could face discipline from the NFL, and the Bucs are an image-conscious team. I think it’s a long shot that they make a play for Hardy.