The Bears cut Hardy on Monday, Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago reports.
Hardy spent the first five seasons of his NFL career playing for the Falcons, from 2015 to 2019, but he didn't play at all in 2020. Given that he's proven capable of handling a reserve role, Hardy shouldn't have too much trouble earning another chance elsewhere in the league.
Hardy will sign a contract with the Bears, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Hardy didn't play in the NFL last season after spending each of his first five years in the league with the Falcons. He most recently compiled 19 receptions for 195 yards back in 2019 and will attempt to find a role in a Bears receiving corps that was thinned out slightly by the team's recent trade of Anthony Miller.
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.
Hardy caught all three of his targets for 28 receiving yards during Thursday's 26-18 loss to the Saints.
The fifth-year veteran has seemingly been passed up for another promotion in the receiving corps, as second-year wideouts Russell Gage and Christian Blake combined for a 18 targets during Julio Jones' Week 13 absence (shoulder). Hardy will continue his special-teams involvement and remain Atlanta's No. 4 or 5 option at wide receiver during an upcoming Dec. 8 matchup against the Panthers' bottom-10 scoring defense.
Hardy caught two of four targets for 14 yards during Sunday's 29-3 win over Carolina.
By down-roster receiver standards, Hardy has put together a solid month, catching two passes in three of his last four games -- he just hasn't found ways to get downfield. Even as a receiver known for doing most of his work underneath, his 9.0 yards per catch is on pace for a career low. The veteran target is a very low-end option even for Sunday's matchup against Tampa Bay's 31st-ranked pass defense.
Hardy accounted for 23 receiving yards on two catches during Sunday's 27-20 loss to Seattle.
The trade of Mohamed Sanu to New England was bound to increase offensive involvement for a third Atlanta receiver, but in Week 8 that player turned out to be Russell Gage rather than Hardy. The second-year man more than doubled Hardy's target share (nine to four), and accounted for seven catches and 58 yards in a matchup against Seattle's susceptible 27th-ranked pass defense. Hardy and the Falcons' receiving corps now head into a Week 9 bye, before facing a Saints squad on Nov. 10 that has surrendered an average of 316.5 total yards per game (sixth in the league) and 19.5 points per game, which ranks ninth.
Hardy has moved up the depth chart at wide receiver with Mohamed Sanu having been traded to New England on Tuesday morning, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports.
The 27-year-old wideout has been a rather efficient player over the course of his career, but he has not been afforded the requisite volume of work to be a consistent fantasy asset. Hardy has logged a 68.5 percent catch rate since his rookie year but has never exceeded 36 targets in any of his five professional seasons. Now that Mohamed Sanu has moved on to New England, Hardy is in line for an increased workload, though his value may not see a significant spike until Matt Ryan (ankle) makes his return from injury.
Hardy caught both of his targets for 19 receiving yards during Sunday's 37-10 loss to the Rams.
The 27-year-old wideout played on 18 percent of Atlanta's offensive snaps and had two receptions on the Falcons' penultimate drive to help set up a garbage time touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Austin Hooper. He could see an uptick in playing time over the latter half of 2019, especially if Mohamed Sanu is in fact moved, something NFL Network's Ian Rapoport suggested was a possibility Monday.
Hardy caught his lone target for a gain of six yards during Sunday's 27-24 loss to Indianapolis.
Hardy has seen his offensive involvement dwindle over the past two weeks, garnering just two targets against the Eagles and Colts after picking up 41 yards on five targets in the season opener at Minnesota. He remains the Falcons' No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver alongside Russell Gage, as Atlanta prepares to host Tennessee and the Titans' top-5 pass defense.
Hardy couldn't haul in his only target in Sunday's win over the Eagles.
Hardy had a decent season opener with four catches for 41 yards on five targets, but he saw his snap count get cut in half in Week 2 and played just 11 offensive snaps. Meanwhile, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley both garnered 10 targets, so Hardy's absence from the offense could become a trend, with Mohamed Sanu (seven targets) and Austin Hooper (six targets) stepping up as well.
Hardy corralled four of five targets while gaining 41 receiving yards during Sunday's 28-12 loss to Minnesota.
Hardy picked up a 23-yard gain on a first-quarter catch that seemingly placed Atlanta in prime position to put up points before the drive stalled out around midfield, and he saw an increased workload overall after Russell Gage (concussion) absorbed a hit to the head during the first half and was forced to exit the game. If Gage proves unable to clear concussion protocol, the 27-year-old Hardy is expected to serve as Atlanta's No. 4 receiving option in Week 2, as the Falcons prepare for an Eagles defense that surrendered 380 passing yards and three passing touchdowns to Washington in its season opener.
Hardy hauled in each of his two targets, accounting for nine receiving yards during Thursday's 34-27 loss to Miami.
The 27-year-old has had minimal offensive involvement over his past four regular and preseason outings, after showing signs of potential resurgence late in the 2018 season. Hardy compiled six receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns between Weeks 14 and 15, but has just two receptions for nine yards (both coming Thursday night) in four appearances since. What's more, Hardy's grip on the starting punt returner role may not be as secure as once perceived. Despite him finishing 17th in the NFL last year in yards per punt return (7.4), Kenjon Barner, Olamide Zaccheaus, Marcus Green and C.J. Worton have been the Falcons fielding punts thus far this preseason.
The Falcons re-signed Hardy on Thursday, Will McFadden of the team's official site reports.
A four-year veteran, Hardy has played a bit role at receiver for the Falcons, totaling 76 catches (on 118 targets) for 751 yards and nine touchdowns in 41 games. He does hold some sway as a returner, but the signing of Kenjon Barner indicates Hardy will have competition for those spots on the depth chart in 2019.
Hardy produced 14 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns over 16 games in 2018.
With first-round rookie Calvin Ridley in the fold, Hardy took on a smaller role than he's had in recent seasons with Atlanta. The 27-year-old was still a reliable No. 4 receiver for the Falcons, though, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he re-signs before or after he becomes an unrestricted free agent in March.
Hardy caught all three of his targets Sunday, accumulating 29 receiving yards and one touchdown during a 40-14 victory against the Cardinals.
Through Week 13, Hardy had eight receptions for 74 yards and no touchdowns. The fourth-year man has six catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games against Green Bay and Arizona. Hardy hasn't been playing a greater number of snaps necessarily (in fact, last week he only fielded 14 offensive snaps in a breakout performance), but 35 percent of his targets this season have come over the last two weeks. It will be intriguing to see Hardy's involvement in Week 16, when the Falcons travel to take on a Panthers defense that's allowed 2.5 passing touchdowns and 269.5 yards per game through the air over it's past six outings.
Hardy caught three of four targets, compiling 30 receiving yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 34-20 loss to Green Bay.
After accounting for seven combined receiving scores over the past two seasons, it came as a surprise that Hardy had yet to find the end zone entering Week 14, having come into Sunday's road test at Lambeau Field without logging a single red-zone target on the year. Matt Ryan looked for Hardy three times when the Falcons were inside the Green Bay 20-yard line, once connecting for a 19-yard junk time score to bolster Hardy's stat line for the day. With Atlanta all but mathematically eliminated from the NFC playoff mix, the coaching staff may give Hardy some more run over the final three weeks of the regular season to gauge whether he merits consideration as a member of the 53-man roster moving forward. Week 15 provides a matchup against a sturdy Cardinals secondary that's helped contain opposing wideouts to 1,889 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this year, among the NFL's 10 best units in each of those categories.
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