Greg Hardy‘s one-year contract with the Cowboys is more than a little complicated — while it contains a base salary of just $750K, the deal also has $9.25MM in per-game roster bonuses, money that Hardy would only see for each game he’s active. Additionally, Hardy was entitled to a $1.31MM workout bonus, and could earn another $1.8MM via incentives.
Hardy has already earned that workout bonus, which, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap explained earlier this year, acted as something of a signing bonus. Following a four-game suspension, Hardy has played in four contests, meaning he’s taken home about $176K in base salary and and roughly $2.312MM in roster bonuses. The incentives had remained a mystery until now, as a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that Hardy was scheduled to earn $500K for eight sacks, $1MM for 10, $1.4MM for 12, and the full $1.8MM for 14. Hardy already has four sacks through four games, so if he were to continue this pace, Dallas would end up paying the $1.4MM bonus.
Some (including myself) have theorized that with the Cowboy stumbling through something of a lost season, they could cut Hardy now, not only ridding themselves of an off-the-field headache, but saving themselves a decent chunk of money in the process. Unless the club seriously plans to re-sign Hardy after the season (which seems increasingly unlikely given his behavior), there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to keep him on the roster.
In Florio’s piece, he writes that Hardy’s sack-based incentive is the “only…aspect of compensation [that] hinges on Hardy being on the roster through the end of the regular season,” arguing that the Cowboys wouldn’t save that much money by cutting Hardy. Based on my reading of the contract, that’s not the case. If Hardy were to be waived tonight, for example, Dallas would would be off the hook for not only the $1.4MM in incentives, but also $4.625MM in per-game roster bonuses (eight remaining games multiplied by $578,125).
In total, the Cowboys could save $6.025MM of a contract which had a maximum value of about $11.3MM — not exactly chump change. Even if one disregards or overlooks the moral case for waiving Hardy, the financial ramifications are clear: Dallas would clear out ample cap space by cutting Hardy in the coming weeks, especially before he begins reaching his incentives.