One component of the NFL’s proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement, which is still in negotiations between the owners and players, is a revised drug policy with lighter rules around marijuana use. If this new CBA is adopted and certain aspects take effect in 2020, how might this new policy help Cowboys Defensive End Randy Gregory return to active duty?
Gregory, a highly-talented pass rusher drafted in 2015, has struggled with marijuana use and been on the wrong end of the NFL’s drug policy for most of his professional career. He has missed all of the 2017 and 2019 seasons on suspensions, plus multiple games in other years.
These absent years have allowed Dallas to retain Gregory’s right well beyond the usual four-year mark. He is still under contract for 2020 and could provide the Cowboys with a much-needed pass rushing option, especially if Robert Quinn is lost in free agency.
The proposed CBA also reduces penalties for players who test positive for THC, eliminating any game suspensions strictly for positive tests. So no more getting banned strictly for smoking weed.
It’s important to note that Gregory’s suspension in 2019 was never really challenged. Randy didn’t apply for reinstatement as many expected, reportedly taking the year to work on his personal life and make sure his next attempt to return to the NFL would be successful.
Had Gregory actually tried to return last year it probably would have been approved. The league allowed WR Josh Gordon to come back in 2019 despite an even worse track record than Randy’s, which was indicative of the softening viewpoint around marijuana use that led to this revised policy.
So really, Randy Gregory should be able to get back into the league even without this new CBA. But where the new drug policy can really help him is staying active for the Cowboys.
Gregory is the best natural pass rusher that Dallas has had since DeMarcus Ware. He’s proven that he can make an impact even in a supporting role, registering six sacks in 2018 despite not starting.
Even if the Cowboys do keep Quinn in 2020, having Gregory has a rotation piece would be a highly valuable asset.
Right now it looks the players, who are schedule to vote today on the proposed CBA, will likely reject the proposal based on other factors regarding compensation and schedules. The negotiations will probably go into next year and even a 2021 lockout by the players is possible, if not expected.
So yes, sadly, this may all be a moot point. But even if the drug policy doesn’t get changed in 2020, hopefully Randy Gregory is still ready to make a return to football and provide some needed help to the Cowboys’ defense.