IRVING, Texas -- Sometimes what is not said means more than what is said.
Four times in Monday’s end of season news conference Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was asked about Greg Hardy, and the answers were among the shortest in a 37-minute meeting -- on and off camera -- with the media.
“I thought Greg did some good things for us on the field, defended the run well at times, impacted the quarterback at different times during the game,” Garrett said.
And that was it.
When Garrett was asked about Darren McFadden, he was much more effusive in his praise.
Hardy is scheduled to be a free agent in March. The Cowboys cannot use the franchise or transition tags on him per the terms of the one-year contract he signed last year. After the season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins, Hardy said he would like to return to the Cowboys.
“If the Cowboys offer me an opportunity to stay," Hardy said Sunday, "I would love to stay here. "My man [Jerry Jones] took a nice chance on me, and I would love to repay that debt with a million sacks and a ton of wins. We couldn’t, so I would say it was very mal -- for my Spanish friends -- mucho mal."
Does Garrett want Hardy back?
“Don’t want to get into any personnel decisions right now,” Garrett said. “Again, today was about wrapping things up with our team in a team meeting and then trying to speak with everybody individually and we’ll do that here over the next couple of days as well. So that’s the first order of business.”
Hardy earned a $1.3116 million workout bonus, nearly $588,000 in base salary and $6.9375 million in per-game roster bonuses. With six sacks in 12 games, Hardy fell short of a $500,000 incentive for eight sacks.
For $8.8 million, the Cowboys hoped for more.
Garrett had to have numerous discussions with Hardy from the time he signed through the end of the season, mostly for off-field actions that drew attention to himself with poorly-chosen quotes about Tom Brady’s wife or tweets about the Twin Towers. In November, Jones and Hardy had a one-on-one conversation.
Asked if Hardy appeared to “get it” later in the year, Garrett deferred.
“I think with all your players what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to coach them every way that you can,” he said. “Try to coach them on the field. You try to coach them off the field. You try to be a positive influence. You try to create the right environment for them to be their best. Hopefully some of those things that we’ve done with all members of our football team have had a positive impact on him.”