c'mon, you don't think that we would have picked up an LT or WR or a DB if we had the money?
and if we let hardy walk, DE isn't a need. it's weaker, but not nearly the need that exists at WR, DB, and LT where we really have none.
and again, by tagging him he handicapped our ability to address multiple positions and ensured that we would have major issues filling those needs.
and also again, the DL would still be dominant without hardy and the front seven would remain elite. the amount of improvement that star and short should make and the growth of klein will make it easy for whoever fills in for hardy.
I can only speculate as to what we would have done. I don't see how we would have taken on the contracts some of those guys got though. Would I have liked to grab a WR and a LT? You bet. But WOW at some of the contracts these guys got.
If we lose Hardy, our front 7 goes from elite to above average at best. What Hardy does for this team is being slighted a bit here. 15 sacks and 30+ pressures with the ability to shut down the run doesn't just fall out of the sky every day. Having both Hardy and Johnson makes our corners go from embarrassing to average and our safeties from mediocre to solid. We lose Hardy, Johnson gets double-teamed every play and that neutralizes most of our pass rush. When the pass rush is neutralized, the corners are exposed. We barely have corners soooo.... game over.