Hardy won't re-sign with the Falcons, instead becoming an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The 2015 fourth-round pick played 73 games for Atlanta the past five seasons, landing between 22 and 36 targets each year. Hardy's ability to contribute on special teams should make it easy enough for him to find a new job at the bottom of a depth chart, but he isn't likely to land a significant role on offense.
Hardy caught all three of his targets for 40 receiving yards during Sunday's 28-22 overtime win against the Buccaneers. The veteran wideout was once again a role player for Atlanta's attack during 2019, recording 19 receptions for 195 yards across 16 regular-season appearances. Throughout the campaign Hardy's workload exceeded 20 offensive snaps on just three occasions, and outside of a relatively busy Week 1 showing against Minnesota, he never commanded more than four targets in any game. The 28-year-old's contract will expire over the offseason, and it remains to be seen if he will be a part of the team's plans for 2020.
Hardy was unable to haul in his only target of Sunday's 24-12 win over Jacksonville. Hardy finished fourth among the Falcons' receivers with 21 snaps Sunday, 28% of the team total. The veteran has been passed over in favor of Atlanta's younger receivers, such as sophomore Russell Gage, since Calvin Ridley (abdomen) headed to injured reserve. Expect the youth movement to continue Sunday against Tampa Bay's 29th-ranked pass defense.
Hardy hauled in his only target for a 19-yard gain during Sunday's 40-20 win against the Panthers. The 27-year-old wideout fielded 17 percent of the offensive snaps Week 14 against Carolina but is expected to see an uptick in involvement against the 49ers in Week 15 with Calvin Ridley (abdomen) ruled out for the remainder of 2019. Hardy came on late in the season last year for a two-game stretch, racking up six receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns between Weeks 13 and 14. Thus far in 2019, however, he's only exceeded four targets in a game once, as the Falcons prepare for an upcoming matchup against San Francisco's top-ranked pass defense.
Hardy is expected to be in line for a reduced role offensively with Julio Jones (shoulder) cleared to play Sunday against the Panthers following a one-game absence, Will McFadden of the Falcons' official site reports. Hardy served as the Falcons' No. 4 receiver in the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Saints, playing a season-high 26 offensive snaps (28 percent) and finishing with three catches for 28 yards on three targets. Assuming Atlanta is at full strength at receiver in Week 14, Hardy will slide down to fifth on the depth chart, rendering him an afterthought on offense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/06||@Green Bay Packers||12||19.22|
|11||11/22||@New Orleans Saints||27||24.71|
|12||11/29||Las Vegas Raiders||0.00|
|13||12/06||New Orleans Saints||27||24.71|
|14||12/13||@Los Angeles Chargers||3||16.13|
|15||12/20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||32||27.63|
|16||12/27||@Kansas City Chiefs||4||16.68|
|17||01/03||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||32||27.63|
|3 Year Avg||26||18||183||2||10||10.17||30|