Unfortunately, this isn’t Irving’s first time running afoul of league rules. Last June, he was hit with a four game suspension for a PED violation.
Irving will miss the team’s first four games of the year against the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks, and Lions. He’ll be eligible to return for the club’s Week 5 contest against the Texans.
The Cowboys could be at a serious disadvantage to start the year between Irving’s four-game ban and the foot injury plaguing defensive tackle Maliek Collins. The Cowboys did not draft a defensive tackle this year, so they’ll use some combination of Brian Price, Richard Ash, Jihad Ward, and Datone Jones to fill the void.
The suspension may affect Irving’s bank account on multiple levels. For starters, he’ll lose out on four game checks from his a one-year, $2.9MM restricted tender. The four-game suspension – his second in two years – may also hurt his stock as he approaches unrestricted free agency.
Irving emerged as a playmaker in limited action in 2016 by logging four sacks and four forced fumbles. His 2017 season was cut short due to a concussion and a four-game suspension at the season’s outset, but he still managed seven sacks in eight games. That was good for the second-highest total on the team, trailing only Demarcus Lawrence.
On paper, the Cowboys boast one of the better defensive line units in the NFL, but suspensions and injuries have put everything in flux. The Cowboys are still waiting to hear about the status of former second-round pick Randy Gregory, who formally applied for reinstatement earlier this month.