East Notes: Hardy, Washington, Pats

The Cowboys‘ signing of Greg Hardy understandably raised a few eyebrows in this era of heightened scrutiny of players with histories of domestic violence. Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings called the signing a “shot to the gut,” and Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University, wonders if the decision to allow someone like Hardy a path to redemption is compassionate or irresponsible.

Nonetheless, as Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News writes, even the most ardent critics of the Hardy decision realize that if the Cowboys did not believe Hardy could contribute on the field, he would not be there. Josh Brent and Joseph Randle would not be there. The Cowboys, who also signed Michael Sam to their practice squad last season, are not trying to be a vehicle for social dialogue, they are simply trying to build a better football team. And since Dallas is well-acquainted with the type of controversy that Hardy brings, their latest high-profile acquisition has a good chance to do just that.

Now for some more notes from the league’s east divisions:

  • Washington‘s free agent acquisitions this offseason were generally greeted with more enthusiasm than last year’s class, and John Keim of ESPN.com looks at how the major signings of 2014 panned out and what to expect from them moving forward.
  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com believes Washington, just like last year, will bring in a kicker to compete with incumbent Kai Forbath. But despite Forbath’s relative lack of leg strength, which manifests itself in opposing teams’ starting field position, Tandler does not see anyone unseating Forbath at this point.
  • Given the departure of Vince Wilfork, the fact that Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga both underwent offseason surgery, and Dominique Easley‘s appearance on the injured reserve list in December, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com expects the Patriots to further solidify their defensive tackle corps this offseason.
  • Echoing sentiments that have been widely shared across the league, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News writes that this offseason has narrowed the gap between the perennial class of the AFC East, the Patriots, and the rest of the division.
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