A day after re-signing with the Carolina Panthers, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards said Wednesday he agrees with management’s decision on another defensive lineman the team isn’t bringing back.
Edwards said embattled defensive end Greg Hardy is a great player who makes the defense better. But he believes owner Jerry Richardson was right to cut ties with Hardy in the wake of his domestic violence case.
“That’s never a good topic to talk about when you talk about domestic violence and what happened. It’s tough. It seems like we as players and coaches and maybe even Carolina Panthers fans were the only ones that were punished,” Edwards said in a phone interview.
“He obviously still got paid, and now they’re still saying he hasn’t been punished. It’s a weird deal. But I understand Mr. Richardson and his feelings on that. I have a wife and two daughters as well, and you just can’t have that associated with your brand.”
Hardy became a free agent Wednesday and is reportedly drawing interest from a number of teams, even while he awaits word from the league on his discipline and likely suspension.
He collected $13.1 million last season for playing in one game – the opener at Tampa Bay. He was deactivated for a Week 2 game against Detroit and went on the seldom-used commissioner’s exempt list the following week.
A district judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder at his condo last May after a night of partying. The misdemeanor charges were dismissed last month when prosecutors couldn’t find Holder to testify in the jury trial.
District attorney Andrew Murray said Hardy paid Holder an undisclosed amount to settle any potential civil claims.
Edwards said he helped Hardy grow up early in his career, but knows the decision to part ways with him was in the team’s best interests.
“It’s bigger than football sometimes, bigger than wins and losses. I get that,” Edwards said. “I love Greg, and the time he was here, I think I helped Greg a lot. Just to see him improve was very (rewarding) to me and seeing him get paid. I’m very sorry the way stuff worked out.”
He said he hopes the Panthers will add a pass rusher in free agency or the draft to take some of the pressure off defensive end Charles Johnson, who commanded more attention last season without Hardy to occupy extra blockers.
Edwards said the Panthers proved they could still be a formidable defense without Hardy, and he believes the pieces are in place to make a deep run in the playoffs in 2015.
Edwards, who will be 33 in May, signed a two-year deal Tuesday hours before the start of free agency. When he was asked whether it would be his last contract, he mentioned quarterback Cam Newton, who is entering the last year of his contract.
“I would definitely say this is going to be my last shot. Looking forward to getting Cam’s best shot this year,” Edwards said. “I think the time’s going to be now for the Panthers these next couple years, so I look forward to being involved and we’ll see what happens.”
Edwards suggested Newton could bolster his negotiating power with a Super Bowl ring, similar to Baltimore’s Joe Flacco in 2012.
“It’s a contract year, right? It’s for all the marbles. I think we’ll probably have Cam’s best these next couple years,” Edwards said. “It’d be nice for him to get all he can and maybe get it the way Flacco got it. I’d like to ride off in the sunset maybe. That sounds great to me.”
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