Justin Hardy

Chicago Bears
Wide Receiver #16
Chicago Bears
Wide Receiver #16

Justin Hardy News

Let go by Bears

The Bears cut Hardy on Monday, Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago reports.

Analysis: Hardy spent the first five seasons of his NFL career playing for the Falcons, from 2015-19, 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.

Aug 17, 2021 10:13 AM EST

Signing on with Bears

Hardy will sign a contract with the Bears, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: 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.

Jul 27, 2021 3:41 PM EST

Leaving Atlanta

Hardy won't re-sign with the Falcons, instead becoming an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Analysis: 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 to find a new job at the bottom of a depth chart, but he isn't likely to land a significant role on offense.

Mar 16, 2020 9:39 AM EST

40 yards receiving in season finale

Hardy caught all three of his targets for 40 receiving yards during Sunday's 28-22 overtime win against the Buccaneers.

Analysis: 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 will see his contract expire over the offseason, and it remains to be seen if he will remain in the team's plans for 2020.

Dec 31, 2019 11:00 AM EST

Targeted once in win

Hardy was unable to haul in his only target of Sunday's 24-12 win over Jacksonville.

Analysis: 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 targets, such as sophomore receiver 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.

Dec 24, 2019 10:12 PM EST

Logs 19-yard catch in Week 14 win

Hardy hauled in his only target for a 19-yard gain during Sunday's 40-20 win against the Panthers.

Analysis: The 27-year-old wideout fielded 17 percent of the offensive snaps Week 14 against Carolina, but he 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 had only exceeded four targets in a game once, as the Falcons prepare for an upcoming matchup against San Francisco's top-ranked pass defense.

Dec 9, 2019 5:50 PM EST

Likely to lose snaps Week 14

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.

Analysis: 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.

Dec 6, 2019 12:01 PM EST

Complementary piece in Week 13 loss

Hardy caught all three of his targets for 28 receiving yards during Thursday's 26-18 loss to the Falcons.

Analysis: 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 colossal 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.

Nov 28, 2019 10:29 PM EST

Picks up 14 yards in win

Hardy caught two of four passes for 14 total yards during Sunday's 29-3 win over Carolina.

Analysis: By down-roster receiver standards, it's been an OK past month for Hardy, who has caught 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 heading into Sunday's matchup against Tampa Bay's 31st-ranked pass defense.

Nov 19, 2019 7:41 PM EST

Another quiet outing in Week 3

Hardy caught his lone target for a gain of six yards during Sunday's 27-24 loss to Indianapolis.

Analysis: 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.

Sep 22, 2019 8:26 PM EST

Falls out of favor in Week 2

Hardy couldn't haul in his only target in Sunday's win over the Eagles.

Analysis: 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 by playing 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.

Sep 17, 2019 1:25 PM EST

Steps in with solid Week 1 showing

Hardy corralled four of five targets, while gaining 41 receiving yards during Sunday's 28-12 loss to Minnesota.

Analysis: Hardy relieved the injured Russell Gage (concussion) after he absorbed a hit to the head during the first half of Sunday's loss, and was forced to exit from the game. Hardy filled in admirably for his teammate under dire circumstances, at one point picking up a 23-yard gain on a first quarter catch, that seemingly putting Atlanta in prime position to put up points before the drive stalled out around midfield. 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 scores to Washington in the season opener.

Sep 9, 2019 7:04 AM EST

Catches both targets in loss

Hardy hauled in each of his two targets, accounting for nine receiving yards during Thursday's 34-27 loss to Miami.

Analysis: 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.

Aug 8, 2019 9:56 PM EST

Sticking with Falcons

The Falcons re-signed Hardy on Thursday, Will McFadden of the team's official site reports.

Analysis: 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.

Mar 21, 2019 11:39 AM EST

Plays reduced role in 2018

Hardy produced 14 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns over 16 games in 2018.

Analysis: 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.

Jan 20, 2019 6:38 PM EST

Scores for second consecutive week

Hardy caught all three of his targets Sunday, accumulating 29 receiving yards and one touchdown during a 40-14 victory against the Cardinals.

Analysis: 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 the Panthers defense that's allowed 2.5 passing touchdowns and 269.5 yards per game through the air over it's past six outings.

Dec 16, 2018 4:28 PM EST

Records first touchdown of 2018

Hardy caught three of four targets, compiling 30 receiving yards and one touchdown during Sunday's 34-20 loss to Green Bay.

Analysis: 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.

Dec 10, 2018 4:58 AM EST

Targeted twice against Saints

Hardy caught one of two targets for six yards during Thanksgiving's 31-17 loss to New Orleans.

Analysis: The veteran target has fallen off over the past month. He's been targeted just thrice over his last four games, totaling 13 yards. Hardy has been targeted more than twice in a game just once all year and hasn't really been a contributor in a pretty prolific Falcons passing game. Sunday brings a top-five pass defense in Baltimore.

Nov 27, 2018 7:44 PM EST

Targeted once in loss

Hardy caught his only target, a seven-yard game, during Sunday's 28-16 loss to Cleveland.

Analysis: Despite taking part in a revitalized Falcons pass offense ranked fourth in the league, Hardy has been seldom used in Atlanta's scheme. Five of Hardy' seven catches this season came during the Falcons' recent three-game winning streak, but -- even then -- he failed to garner much production. Next up is a Dallas pass defense ranked in the top 10 of the league, giving up just 232 yards per game.

Nov 13, 2018 9:06 PM EST

Remains involved in Falcons passing attack

Hardy collected two receptions for 24 yards during Monday's 23-20 win against the Giants.

Analysis: The crafty veteran now has five receptions on nine targets over Atlanta's pass two games, after collecting just one catch on one target through the first five weeks of the season. Minor injuries to Mohamed Sanu (groin) and Calvin Ridley (ankle) facilitated in Hardy seeing an uptick in his offensive involvement of late, but so long as he keeps producing, Hardy has a chance to field between 15 and 25 snaps per game as a No. 4 or No. 5 option for the Falcons receiving corps. Following a Week 8 bye, Atlanta will take on Washington and the NFL's No. 9 pass defense Nov. 4 at FedEx Field.

Oct 23, 2018 5:51 PM EST

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