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.
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges
Player news this time of year is often not the good kind, and such is true of a new development with Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White. The second-year CB is facing aggravated assault charges for an incident last October.
According to the report, White displayed a legally owned firearm during a "road rage" incident.
Marquez, a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys last season, has made his side of the story public. The following account was released by White to The Dothan Eagle, his hometown newspaper:
Naturally, we're in a wait-and-see situation as to how this case unfolds and impacts White's availability to the Cowboys in 2018. He is one of several players hoping to catch on at the bottom of the CB depth chart, having spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
This latest legal issue is especially unwelcome news after other Cowboys' recent problems. The team has seen David Irving get suspended four games for illegal substances and Terrance Williams' get arrested for public intoxication in the last two months.
Last year, Linebacker Damien Wilson was charged for aggravated assault in a somewhat similar situation to that of Marquez White. Those charges were eventually dropped.
What happens in White's case remains to be seen.
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