Browns Need To Shift Focus To Greg Hardy

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Photo creds: carolinahuddle.com

Two year ago the Cleveland Browns signed outside linebacker Paul Kruger to a 5-year/40.5 million contract, with the thought that he would be a perennial pro-bowl Pass rusher.  Since then he’s only amassed 15 sacks(though 11 did come last season) and hasn’t made the Pro Bowl.  He is a solid and valuable member of the Cleveland front seven, but hasn’t produced like a star.

Enter Greg Hardy.  Hardy is the pass rusher every team hopes to have.  While the league is still mulling over a possible suspension after his domestic abuse scandal last year, he shouldn’t miss more than 6 games, which is a small price to pay for signing someone of his ability.  A pure testament to his ability is the fact that he’s recorded 27 sacks over his last 32 games.  Standing at just 26 years old he’s producing like an all star and teams seriously have to consider double teaming him.

While in Cleveland, resident linebackers Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo don’t provoke the thought double team. In fact, when you combine Kruger’s 32 games and Mingo’s 30.  They only combine for 22.5 sacks.  This offseason also saw former sack master Jabaal Sheard depart for New England.  Leaving the pass rusher situation thinner than tissue paper. Granted, Sheard’s production was sublime in the 3-4 scheme.  Where he only managed 5.5 sacks in 2013 and just 2 this past season.

The Browns have been reported as looking to fix the D-line, but their presumed targets, Ndamukong Suh and Jerry Hughes, have already inked new contracts.  This leaves only one clear difference maker on the market and that’s Hardy. While the Browns made clear they aren’t going to spend the bank in FA, they have plenty of cap space to make a deal happen with Hardy, with the total somewhere around $40 million.  It shouldn’t be too hard to sign Hardy.  It would probably require a little more money than the deal Kruger got.  Something like 6 years for $52 million.

The one thing that makes this pairing seem improbable is the allegations that were thrown at Hardy last season.  Does Cleveland really want another “problem” while already dealing with QB Johnny Manziel and WR Josh Gordon?  Yes they should.  Hardy’s problems are the past and the only problem he posses now is how will offensive tackles keep him away from their QB.

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