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Class Cancelled: Randy Gregory’s Exit Erases Cowboys 2015 Draft

With Randy Gregory becoming a Denver Bronco this , the Dallas have no players left from their 2015 . While all draft classes eventually move on, it’s a bit more alarming after just seven seasons.

Here’s a quick reminder of who comprised the Class of 2015:

While no longer Cowboys, most of the class are still contributing for other teams. Jones is playing on his franchise-level contract with the Dolphins, Gregory just got a lucrative deal from Denver, Green is backup in Pittsburgh, and Wilson just signed with Carolina after starting for Kansas City and Jacksonville the last three years.

In fact, Russell and Gibson are the only two guys who are out of the league. Nzeocha has been a backup and special teamer with the 49ers the last several years and Swaim just started 16 games for Jacksonville last year.

Ironically, one of the Cowboys’ most impactful players from 2015 wasn’t drafted. OT La’el Collins has been a key offensive lineman since his arrival but also departed this offseason, released in a cap-clearing move and now starting for the Bengals.

So why is any of this noteworthy? Players come and go all the time.

While that’s very true, guys like , , and from 2011-2014 are still here and key players for Dallas. would be among them if not for a freak medical issue.

Or on the other side, consider the impact that , , and from the 2016 Draft are still having on their second contracts.

Byron Jones 1
Former Cowboys CB Byron Jones

Considering that the 2015 class still has multiple NFL starters and backups to its name, it’s unfortunate that none of those players are contributing to their original team. And while it’s for a variety of reasons, it seems to come back to Dallas’ recent struggles with contract negotiations and cap management.

Gregory was reportedly about to re-sign with the Cowboys in March before a last-minute snag in contract language sent him bolting for Denver. And while there are signs that Collins’ was more about personal issues, the official reason from the team was to create cap space.

Byron Jones, one of the NFL’s top corners when he became a in 2020, wasn’t offered what he wanted from Dallas and wound up with the Dolphins.

The problem with not having any contributors left from 2015 is that it means having to throw assets at replacements in stead of improvements at other positions. For example, if Gregory was still here, Dallas could’ve used their 2022 2nd-Round pick somewhere else instead of .

Some of this is circumstantial and random. For example, Swaim wasn’t re-signed in 2019 after four -plagued years in Dallas. But he just played a full season for Jacksonville and, had he been more reliable here, Geoff may very well still be here in a significant role.

We’re not far off from seeing this kind of exodus again from the 2017 class. Only and remain from that class and there’s a strong chance that neither will be with the team in 2023.

The organization heaps a lot of praise on for his work in and talent acquisition. What this illustrates is twofold; we still have plenty of misses in the draft, and the needs to get better about retaining the successful picks.

This talent treadmill is a huge factor in the Cowboys’ lack of progression beyond the early rounds of the . We need to get more long-term benefit out of our draft classes and avoid wholesale cleanouts of talent within just 6-7 years.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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4 Comments

  1. Managing the cap is the key to winning .
    But, ironically, resigning Gregory would have been a huge error. He simply is not worth what the Boys offered and Denver will regret the signing.
    None of those names are significant and Byron Jones is vastly overpaid in Miami.
    When other teams demand to overpay, it is smart to let them.

  2. Good article Jess. It’s crazy that they don’t have a single player from the 2015 draft, and the 2107 draft is most likely next!!!, although that draft was pretty bad. Drafting Taco Charlton right before TJ Watt was taken was RIDICULOUS. That alone makes it a bad draft, but then add in Ryan Switzer, X Woods, Marquez White, Joey Ivie, Jordan Carrell, WOW that’s BAD. I like Lewis more than some others might, and he is the only semi starter left. Awuzie was decent and got to play in a Super Bowl with BENGALS.

    The overpaying of certain players with horribly ill-conceived contracts certainly contributed to this merry-go-round of their players. DP’s contract has to be the worse of the bunch. Not only has it hurt their ability to retain players, but it also precludes them from drafting a REAL promising QB. Instead, they’ll WASTE a pick on a QB like Ben DiNucci?

    AGAIN, I don’t see why the FO “heaps a lot of praise ” on this McClay guy. I commented earlier on another article about the draft MISSES and there has been a TON of them. And if this 1st round pick, Guard Tyler Smith (late riser from a smaller school who likes to hold?) does not pan out, this last draft may be another “spotty” one. They also drafted a player with a big injury concern, and another with off field concerns (arrest for felony sexual battery) in the 2nd round. They seem to have a bad habit of drafting these types of players. Two of the latest examples of this are Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith. It doesn’t appear to be working, so why continue it?

    Bottom line, look at the RESULTS of the team to see how well they have drafted, etc.

    • 2017 was one of the overconfident, “Rod Marinelli can coach up anybody with “x” traits” drafts. Unfortunately, he couldn’t. And, worse, that led to 2019, where it was, “we need to give the coaches more say in the draft”. Which directly led to Trysten Hill, the Miami Jackson Twins, and Jalen Jelks. All busts, all “Marinelli or Richard guys”.

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