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The Buccaneers created Greg Hardy's contract structure

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The controversy over Greg Hardy's continued presence in the NFL flared up again this weekend, as Deadspin released documents and pictures clearly showing evidence that Greg Hardy abused his ex-girlfriend, which was why he spent almost all of last year on a quickly made-up reserve list, and served a suspension to start this season. With Hardy blowing up at his own coaches two weeks ago, and Jerry Jones jumping in to defend him, call him a leader and then say they want to re-sign him for the long term, this is turning into a PR disaster for the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL.

What people keep forgetting is that the Cowboys weren't the only ones to go after Hardy. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did so too, courting him for at least a day before bowing out when it became clear that he wanted to sign with the Cowboys. But the Bucs' interest was concrete enough that they had a contract structure ready for him -- and the Cowboys modeled his contract on it, or so says Adam Schefter.

The Bucs eventually pulled out of the competition over Hardy, but the reasons remain unclear. Officially, Jason Licht told Rick Stroud that they "didn't feel good about it," but Pewter Report reported that the deal fell through because Hardy was using the Bucs to drive up the price with the Cowboys -- successfully, apparently. And now RIck Stroud notes that the Bucs pulled out when Hardy didn't meet with them in person -- after having put the contract on the table.

The second version, where the Bucs simply lost to the Cowboys in competition, fits the timing best: the Bucs had nearly a full year to decide whether or not they "felt good" about the situation, but they changed their mind only at the last minute after having concrete contract talks with Hardy's agent? That's not very likely, unless you think Tampa Bay is completely incompetent in their background checks.

Nothing new had come up in Hardy's case for months at that point. Everything the Bucs needed to know was obvious and in the open. The mere fact that they talked contract with Hardy's agent at that point should show you that Hardy's off-field history was not a significant enough concern for them to turn their back on him.

This goes back to what I keep repeating: the Bucs don't care one bit about a player's off-field behavior, as long as it doesn't prevent him staying on the field. Lip service or no, that's clearly what their actions show.