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Cowboys Showing High Confidence in DE Randy Gregory for 2021

It’s been six years since Randy Gregory joined the as a 2015 2nd-round pick; six seasons of flashed potential and painful disappointments. But as we head into 2021, it appears the ’ confidence in Gregory is at an all-time high. Just how big a role could Randy have in Dallas this season?

We won’t go into great detail on Gregory’s well-documented issues with mental health, use, and repeated violations of the NFL’s previous drug policy. He’s missed two entire seasons and large portions of others with his multiple and time spent working on his personal life.

Gregory returned to the Cowboys in late October of 2020 after a year away from football followed by a six-game . He recorded 3.5 and was arguably the team’s most disruptive by the end of the season.

Now Randy’s back as potentially one of the biggest bargains on the ; just a $2.2 million hit for arguably the Cowboys’ best pass rusher. And with changes to the drug policy regarding marijuana, the 28-year-old Gregory appears to have his best chance yet to make a sustainable, positive impact.

Expectations have always been high for Gregory in Dallas. He wears the #94 for a reason; the Cowboys gave it to Randy as a vote of confidence much like giving #88 to and at receiver.

But while and can be proud of how later generations honored their legacy, and are still waiting for Randy Gregory to do his part. And if the Dallas Cowboys are going to field an effective in 2021, there’s no patience left for Gregory to finally become a key figure on the .

Randy Gregory
Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

After letting walk away in , Dallas is down to just Gregory, , and a lot of unproven options at defensive end. Their one acquisition, from the Jets, will be converting from 3-4 outside lineback to DE and hasn’t been that productive as a pass rusher in New York.

Behind him will be the likes of , , and Ron’Dell Carter; prospects we’d love to see more of but so far haven’t given us much to lean on.

Conversely, we’ve seen what Gregory can do even when he’s getting limited opportunities. In his best career season of 2018, Randy put up six sacks despite missing two games and only appearing on about 45% of the team’s total defensive snaps.

Now Gregory is entering 2021 still in his physical prime and, unlike in 2018 or 2020, not after sitting out an entire year due to suspension or personal issues. He gets to finally build on positive momentum instead of having to once again hit the reset button.

There’s always potential for Dallas to spend a high draft pick at defensive end. Depending on who’s available at their 10th-overall pick, an especially if they down, the Cowboys could very well be interested in Michigan’s Kwity Paye or Miami’s Jaelan Phillips to help boost their DE talent. We’ve also seen another Hurricane, Gregory Rousseau, fall to Dallas’ 2nd-round pick in some projections.

But with big needs at , , , and other spots on the roster, Dallas could easily leave next week’s draft without a significant addition on the defensive line. At that point, if they’re not already, the Cowboys would clearly be counting on Randy Gregory to be a bigger part of the defense than ever before.

Hopefully the stars have aligned for Gregory in 2021. He stands to get his best opportunity yet to stay on the field and carry over momentum from the previous season. If Dallas actually does draft another defensive end next week, even a 1st-round pick will have to put in strong work to outshine Randy in .

We’ve been rooting for Randy Gregory for a long time now. Maybe this is the year he finally rewards the Cowboys’ and their ’ patience.

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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8 Comments

  1. IMO Gregory is somewhat overrated. He’s never been a full time player and his value is based on small sample sizes sprinkled thru six years. He’s also undersized for a DE and gets washed out of a lot of plays due to his size and lack of strength. By default he’s their best pure pass rusher. Not saying he isn’t good, but to count on him as DE2 for the duration of a 17 game season is ambitious. Someone else on this roster needs to step up and be his counterpart.

  2. I somehow think Gregory has matured to be a star next year. I wouldn’t mind seeing if we can ink him to a 3 year deal ahead of the season if the cap permits. He held up against the run and provided very good pressure. Now that he can smoke some pot (is this any different than an alcohol drinker in terms of performance, no) he seems focused and ready. If we were to draft a Payton Turner in #3 to place Randy into more pass rush situations and less on 1st down that would work well. As one commentator above stated, we need a DT that can provide the up the middle rush as QBs have nowhere to go except for into the arms of Lawrence and Gregory which can both disengage quickly and get the sack. Some want to talk about Lawrence getting a large contract and not producing that is simply not true. PFF rated him as one of the NFL’s best DEs. His sack totals are more of a creature of the following: our DTs never provided good pressure which often leads to QBs being flushed into DE’s arms, teams could run down our throat at will up the middle and didn’t need to pass, teams rushed so well that 3rd and long for opposing offenses rarely occurred where a DE could “pin his ears back”, Lawrence could be chipped or double-teamed without any consequences as the other players didn’t produce even with the usage of these resources on Lawrence. The commentator above is correct -. we need a DT who can make an impact. Our other principal needs are a swing-OT so our offense isn’t stymied when Tyron eventually gets injured (need #3) and another CB1 or 2 (need #1 or #2 with DT). Diggs established he can be a CB#1 last as PFF rated him as the 4th best in the NFL at CB, not just rookies, during weeks 7-17 and he did it with a terrible DC and no camp. Phillips has too much injury history (#2 okay) and Paye didn’t produce sacks (don’t want Paye just because he can win the “Underwear Olympic”. McNeil in #2 and Brown in #4 offer NTs who can provide pressure, potentially, and are good value at a vital position of need that also allows for a better evaluation of Smith and LVE in contract years and whether Galloway or Smith can establish themselves as 3-Ts. Draft good players as we can’t fill every need on defense as well as the swing tackle this year- get the CB, NT and swing tackle, then look elsewhere unless a talent is too good to pass up.

  3. IMO the cowboys inability to generate a consistent pass rush was an understated factor as to why our defense was so dismal. Yes the run defense was porous but our pass rush was weak as well and obviously had a trickle down effect, doing the secondary no favors.

  4. Lawrence would benefit more from a nice DT immediately to his right, than he would from a “bookend” pass rusher. That’s what McCoy was supposed to offer. Doesn’t matter who the other DE is … that player isn’t going to take a double-team away from Lawrence.

  5. “After letting Aldon Smith walk away in free agency …”

    Seems now that Aldon wrote that ticket out of town, not the ‘Boys?

    Based on where Dallas is picking and this being the year of the QB/WR/OL, its a darn shame there isn’t that passing rushing DE stud in this years’ draft.

  6. You’re right Jess, fans have been rooting for Randy for some time now. Good to see him finally back on the field. But is he the best player for us at that position? If I remember correctly he commit some bonehead penalties at the worst time. Is there a player in the draft that could supplant him? I would dip into the position somewhat early, to create some real competition. Lawrence is not sacking QB as much anymore and there is not much proven depth, as no one behind these two are showing up well.

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