You could be forgiven if you've forgotten that defensive end Randy Gregory is still with the Dallas Cowboys. After playing in just two games last year and still serving banishment for his drug issues, Gregory was never considered a factor in the 2017 season. However, with his first possible reinstatement date coming up soon, Gregory has resurfaced in team conversations.
In case you don't remember, Gregory was given a one-year suspension after repeated violations of the NFL's drug policy for marijuana. His first possible date to petition the NFL for reinstatement is coming up in just two weeks on November 6th.
Last week, Cowboys insiders Bryan Broaddus and David Helman were asked about Randy's Gregory's status in one of their regular mailbag articles. They said the following:
Broaddus: “Gregory can ask for reinstatement on Nov. 6th of this season. I have been told that the front office is keeping tabs on his situation. I have also been told that he has made some serious life-changing decisions for the good. I don’t know if he’ll ever end up back with the club or in the NFL, but it sounded like he’s trying.”
Helman: “It still feels pretty early to speculate about Randy’s future. We know he can apply for reinstatement soon, but he can’t come back to the organization until January at the earliest. The biggest thing for me is that he’s not costing you a roster spot and you don’t have to pay him right now. Hopefully, he can turn things around. But it’s not hurting the Cowboys to hold on to that hope.”
There is a reason fans are still interested in Randy Gregory. He was considered a first-round talent in the 2015 draft but his stock fell due to the same marijuana use that has stifled his NFL career. Dallas took him in the late second round of that draft. Randy will turn just 25-years-old next month, meaning there's still plenty of football years left in his talented body.
Because of his suspensions, Gregory's rookie contract does not expire next season as originally constructed. He lost a full accrued season and now is signed through at least 2019 and perhaps longer by the time this process plays out.
If he was available, Randy would give the Cowboys the weak-side edge rusher they still greatly need. Guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are better suited to playing along the left side of the defensive front. Gregory was made to go at the NFL's left tackles, and Dallas still doesn't have that guy on the roster.
Unfortunately, next year is probably the earliest that we might see Randy Gregory on the field. According to this report yesterday from Yahoo's Charles Robinson, Gregory's reinstatement request is unlikely to be granted at this time. It sounds like he's making good progress but there are lingering concerns.
“I think there are still some personal issues to work through,” a league source said of Gregory’s potential November reinstatement. “It’s important that he’s in the right place personally and that might require some additional time.”
This isn't unreasonable given Gregory's repeated issues. Despite what we may think after the Ezekiel Elliott catastrophe, the NFL does want players to succeed. They'd hate to allow Gregory back in only to see him have another failure.
Talented and troubled, Randy Gregory is a poster child for the dangers of risky drafting. His draft stock fell for a reason and the Cowboys tried to get a bargain, only to get burned. They even gave him DeMarcus Ware's number as a showing of good faith.
Gregory will probably never reach Ware's status, but there's at least still time for him to still have a productive NFL career. At this point you can only root for a kid to turn his life around, regardless of any other considerations. Even if it's not this season, I look forward to seeing him in a Cowboys uniform again one day.