TAMPA — Gerald McCoy lobbied for him. Certainly, they could use another dominant pass rusher like him. Agent Drew Rosenhaus leveraged one team against another for him. But the Bucs decided Wednesday that Greg Hardy's talent wasn't worth the trouble.
"At the end of the day, we didn't feel good about it," general manager Jason Licht told the Tampa Bay Times.
Shortly after confirming the Bucs had lost interest in Hardy, the Panthers defensive end signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with the Cowboys. The deal could be worth up to $13.1 million, which is what he made last season as the Panthers' franchise player.
Hardy played in only one game last season, recording a sack in the opener against the Bucs, before he eventually was placed on the commissioner's exempt list.
Hardy faces a certain suspension due to his off-field trouble in North Carolina. He was found guilty by a judge of assaulting and threatening to kill an ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder. But the case was appealed to a jury trial, then dismissed after a prosecutors said Hardy reached a settlement with Holder.
McCoy took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his disappointment over losing Hardy to the Cowboys.
"#Bucnation, I honestly gave it my all," McCoy tweeted. "Not sure what the end result will be. Sometimes things don't go your way. Oh well now."
McCoy could've used the help. The Bucs haven't had a player record double-digit sacks in a season since Simeon Rice in 2005.
Hardy, 26, is among the league's elite pass rushers and has 27 sacks in his last 32 games. With the Cowboys, Hardy will have a minimum base salary of $745,000 with the ability to earn a total of $9.255 million in pro-rated, per game bonus. There also is $1.8 million in performance bonuses for sacks.
Defensive end remains a major need for the Bucs, who cut one starter in Michael Johnson, saw former first-round pick Adrian Clayborn sign with Atlanta and missed out on free agent targets Trent Cole and Derrick Morgan. The Bucs could use one of their top picks in the draft to find one starter, with Jacquies Smith (6.5 sacks) returning as a starter on the other side.
McCoy seemed disappointed by the fan response he got for being an advocate for Hardy. "Any fan that can disrespect me for trying to improve our team," McCoy tweeted. "Going out my comfort zone to make something happen I don't need you."
Licht said the Bucs' decision was not based on finances and he was confident in the decision to not consider Hardy.
"Sometimes the best deals you make are the ones you don't," he said.
Rule changes proposed: Video replays galore. More coaches' challenges. And a "bonus field goal."
All are on the agenda for next week's NFL meetings, when team owners will spend much time deciding whether 13 proposals to amend instant replay should pass.
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Among the replay proposals are Detroit suggesting reviewing all penalties called by game officials.
New England even proposed that everything except scoring plays or turnovers be challengeable. Washington suggested increasing a coach's number of challenges from two to three, regardless of whether he is successful on an early challenge.
Other proposals include a scenario that gives teams that successfully convert a 2-point conversion the chance to immediately add another point from midfield with a "bonus field goal."
Indianapolis came up with the idea which, if approved, would make a nine-point deficit a one-possession game.
The catch-no catch rule so heavily debated after the Cowboys' Dez Bryant had a reception overruled in the final minutes of a playoff game at Green Bay will not be changed — except for some potential changes to the language of the rule.
49ers: Free-agent running back Reggie Bush has signed a one-year contract.
Bills: The team has free-agent receiver Percy Harvin under contract on a one-year deal. The former Florida Gators standout joins his fourth team in two years. The team also confirmed that it has submitted an offer for Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay.
Chargers: The team signed away a backup defensive lineman from a division rival by inking a two-year deal with Denver's Mitch Unrein.
Cowboys: The NFL has filed a second lawsuit in North Carolina court seeking information from defensive end Greg Hardy's bench trial last summer in which he was convicted on two counts of domestic violence. The NFL is asking the judge to inform the Mecklenburg County District Attorney to release material from Hardy's first trial. Although the charges were dismissed last month, the NFL is continuing its investigation into the matter.
Falcons: The team re-signed defensive end Kroy Biermann, who led the team in sacks last season. Biermann has played a variety of roles, including a hybrid outside linebacker-defensive end job last season.
Lions: Cornerback Rashean Mathis, who turns 35 in August, will return to the team on a two-year deal worth $3.5 million. His contract includes a $1 million signing bonus.
Ravens: The team released running back Bernard Pierce on Wednesday, hours after he was charged with drunken driving. Baltimore County police said Pierce had been driving 55 mph in a 30 mph zone around 2 a.m. in Towson, Md., north of Baltimore. Pierce is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol and two additional speeding offenses.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.