Randy Gregory

Cowboys Activate Randy Gregory, Neville Gallimore From IR

The Cowboys will have their starting defensive ends in uniform together for the first time since Week 1. Dallas moved Randy Gregory back onto its active roster Saturday.

Both Gregory and defensive tackle starter Neville Gallimore are back from IR. Gregory missed time because of a calf injury, while Gallimore has seen a more severe injury shelve him for the entire season. The second-year defensive tackle has missed all of the 2021 slate due to a dislocated elbow.

Gallimore, a 2020 third-round pick who started nine games as a rookie, returned to practice last week. Gregory’s IR-return window opened ahead of Week 14. The Cowboys will have both in uniform when they face Washington on Sunday. They will team with DeMarcus Lawrence, who returned in Week 13 after having missed 10 games, on a suddenly healthy defensive front.

Gregory has missed time for both this calf ailment and a COVID-19 contraction this season, but he has avoided more off-field trouble. The former 2015 second-rounder has been quite productive in his seven games this season. The oft-unavailable pass rusher has five sacks and 12 QB hits, setting himself up potentially for a payday in 2022. Gregory is due for free agency in March. The Cowboys are not planning to finalize any deals with their 2022 UFAs until season’s end.

Dallas being able to deploy its preferred Lawrence-Gregory defensive end duo will allow rookie dynamo Micah Parsons to spend more time at linebacker. The Cowboys’ edge unavailability has forced Parsons to play up front extensively, though the Penn State product has thrived pretty much wherever he has lined up.

Cowboys’ Randy Gregory Returns To Practice

An important piece to the Cowboys’ defensive front may be on the way back. Randy Gregory returned to practice Wednesday, according to NFL.com’s Jane Slater (Twitter link). 

The pass rusher had been placed on IR with a calf injury he suffered in a practice drill one month ago. That was a major blow to an improved Cowboys defense, and an interruption in Gregory’s most successful season to date. In seven games, he has recorded five sacks to go along with 12 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.

The news is the latest welcome sign for Dallas’ defensive line, as two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence was activated from IR last week. If Gregory is able to return for Sunday’s game against Washington, it would mark the first time since Week 1 that both of the Cowboys’ starting defensive ends were available.

With second-year nose tackle Neville Gallimore also returning to practice, the potential for a healthy defensive line would have an impact on standout rookie Micah Parsons. An off-ball linebacker by trade, the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft has been forced to play on the edge for long stretches this year, recording 10 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Latest On Cowboys’ D-Line Injuries

The Cowboys should be getting a major boost to their front seven within the month. Defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, both currently on IR, could be back in action in the next three to four weeks, per club VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). DT Neville Gallimore is on the same timeline.

Dallas responded to its surprising loss at the hands of the Broncos in Week 9 by administering a thorough dismantling of the Falcons last week, and the 7-2 outfit has the makings of a legitimate championship contender. Getting back two of their top pass rushers would, of course, go a long way towards a deep playoff run.

Lawrence played in the Cowboys’ season opener but then suffered a broken foot in practice, which has kept him on the sidelines ever since. The 29-year-old has not been producing the type of gaudy sack totals that he amassed over the 2017-18 seasons — which helped earn him a five-year, $105MM contract in March 2019 — but he is still a key piece of Dallas’ defensive front.

Gregory, after missing a great deal of time due to suspensions over his first few seasons in the league, had posted five sacks and 12 QB hits through seven games this year before suffering a calf injury in practice earlier this month. He is out of contract at season’s end, and if he continues to play well when he returns, he could be in line for a nice payday. The current expectation is that the club will explore a long-term pact with him this offseason.

Gallimore, a 2020 third-rounder, started nine games in his rookie campaign and was expected to serve as a starter again this year. A dislocated elbow has kept him on the shelf all season, but if nothing else, he could be a useful rotational piece on the interior of the D-line. Third-round rookie Osa Odighizuwa and veteran Carlos Watkins have not been especially effective as the Cowboys’ starting DT tandem in 2021.

Cowboys Place Randy Gregory On IR

Randy Gregory is heading to injured reserve after all. The Cowboys announced today that they’ve placed the pass rusher on injured reserve.

We already knew that Gregory’s calf injury was going to sideline him for at least one game, but it sounded like the team was considering keeping him off IR. Ultimately, that won’t be the case, and Gregory will now be sidelined for the next three games. Gregory suffered the injury during a one-on-one drill on Wednesday, and a subsequent MRI revealed the strain.

Gregory has largely done well to stay on the field this season, which comes after the former second-round pick spent much of his career away from the Cowboys due to suspensions. In seven games, Gregory has recorded five sacks and 12 quarterback hits. The seventh-year D-lineman has added a team-high two forced fumbles during what has been a breakthrough season.

When Gregory was sidelined earlier this season, the team moved first-rounder Micah Parsons to defensive end, so the team could go back to that configuration for the next few weeks. Despite playing mostly in an off-ball role, Parsons has matched Gregory’s five sacks. No other Cowboy edge rusher has more than one sack, however.

Randy Gregory To Miss Multiple Weeks

The Cowboys’ turnaround this season has mostly come without top defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence. Dallas will now be forced to play without both its starting defensive ends.

Randy Gregory suffered a calf injury during practice Wednesday, and Mike McCarthy confirmed he is set to be sidelined multiple games, Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets. IR is a possibility for Gregory, who has emerged as a key pass rusher after years of suspension trouble.

The injury occurred during a one-on-one drill Wednesday, and a subsequent MRI revealed a calf strain. Gregory has largely done well to stay on the field this season, which comes after the former second-round pick spent much of his career away from the Cowboys due to suspensions. In seven games, Gregory has recorded five sacks and 12 quarterback hits. The seventh-year D-lineman has added a team-high two forced fumbles during what has been a breakthrough season.

Lawrence, who has missed seven games, remains on IR with a broken foot. The Cowboys have the option of moving first-rounder Micah Parsons to defensive end, which they did earlier this season when Gregory landed on the COVID-19 list. Despite playing mostly in an off-ball role, Parsons has matched Gregory’s five sacks. No other Cowboy edge rusher has more than one sack, however.

This certainly stands to hurt the Cowboys, who are coming off a shocking showing against the Broncos. Dallas trailed 30-0 at one point in a two-score loss. Partially on the strength of an improved defense, the Cowboys remain 2.5 games up in the NFC East.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Gregory, Fitzpatrick

Jabrill Peppers‘ torn ACL will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2021 campaign, and considering his expiring contract, there’s a chance his stint with the Giants has effectively come to an end. However, head coach Joe Judge kept the door open when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Look, this guy is in a contract year, it’s something I’ve talked to him about directly,” Judge said (h/t to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s a guy that I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward, I’ve told him that directly. He’s been a very good leader for us. You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him. I think that’s very important. He’s a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program and he’s a very important part of our program.”

The safety started five of his six games this season, compiling 29 tackles and one sack. Considering Peppers’ contract status, his reduced playing time, and continued trade rumblings, there was a chance the veteran would be traded prior to his injury. The ACL injury certainly changed things, and Peppers could pursue a comeback with his current team.

More notes out of the NFC East…

  • With the Giants sitting at 2-5, it wouldn’t be a surprise if several Giants veterans end up hitting the trade block. Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv explored which players could be on the move, with tight end Evan Engram, cornerback James Bradberry, guard Will Hernandez, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and offensive tackle Nate Solder earning spots on the list. Vacchiano even goes as far as to list running back Saquon Barkley as a potential trade candidate, but he can’t envision the Giants receiving a haul that would convince them to bail on the former second-overall pick.
  • Randy Gregory has dealt with his fair share of suspensions, but the former Cowboys second-round pick followed an impressive 2020 campaign with an even better start to the 2021 season. In five games (four starts), Gregory has collected four sacks. The 28-year-old will hit free agency following the 2021 season, but David Moore, Calvin Watkins, and Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News all believe that the defensive end will be back next season. Moore notes that the team wouldn’t have held on to Gregory for all these years if they didn’t plan on a long-term pact, while Watkins cautions that the franchise tag could prove to be a risky move considering Gregory’s limited track record.
  • There was once some hope that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be back by now, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that Washington Football Team will have to wait a bit longer. The 38-year-old is still weeks away from returning, with Week 10 being the earliest possible return for the starting quarterback. Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation back in September, forcing Taylor Heinicke into the lineup.

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/13/21

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Cowboys Not Planning To Extend Any Impending Free Agents Before 2022

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones recently expressed regret for the way the team handled Dak Prescott‘s extension, which became a three-offseason saga. The quarterback’s $40MM-per-year contract will now have some effects on the way the Cowboys do business.

Although the Cowboys might circle back to extension talks for the likes of Michael Gallup, Randy Gregory or Leighton Vander Esch, the team will not discuss deals for the free agents-to-be in 2021, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes. The team has closed up shop on extension talks with its impending free agents, a group that also includes guard Connor Williams and tight end Dalton Schultz.

Gallup, Gregory and Vander Esch profile as the team’s top three 2022 free agents. Each could be elsewhere next season, depending on their respective performances this year. Dallas’ upcoming free agent crop does not bring the kind of high-stakes drama of recent offseasons, when the team either doled out big-ticket extensions (in the cases of Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence) or stood down (in the case of Prescott). But Gallup and Gregory could enhance their value with quality contract-year performances, making the Cowboys pay more come 2022 — if they view the starters as long-term pieces.

Cooper’s status will affect Gallup’s. It appears the team recognizes there is only room for one of the two on its 2022 squad, with Gehlken adding that the team expects Gallup to see a big market as a free agent. Cooper’s $20MM-AAV contract becomes easy to shed next year, with the Cowboys saving $16MM in cap space and taking just a $6MM dead-money hit if they cut the former trade acquisition. Cooper, 27, is two years older than Gallup. An either/or scenario creates an interesting subplot for the Cowboys’ passing attack this season.

The Cowboys making Gregory prove it is logical, though they did extend the talented defensive end through 2021 despite his persistent off-field issues. Gregory will be 29 by the time his contract expires, and the former second-round pick has been suspended four times during his career. He is, however, set to be a full-time starter for the first time. This season stands to make a major impact on Gregory’s value ahead of what could be his only notable contract agreement.

Dallas may enter an either/or situation at linebacker soon. The team is set to deploy first-round pick Micah Parsons this year, potentially leaving Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith to vie for a slot alongside him in 2022. The Cowboys did not pick up Vander Esch’s fifth-year option, due to his injury troubles. Shedding Smith’s deal next year would saddle the Cowboys with $6.8MM in dead money. How Vander Esch performs this year, and his health status exiting the season, will largely determine his free agency value.

NFC East Notes: Dak, Gregory, WFT, Eagles

The Cowboys went through three offseasons of Dak Prescott negotiations, finally bringing an end to the saga with a monster four-year, $160MM extension for the Pro Bowl quarterback. This drawn-out process ended benefiting Prescott considerably, given his value when the first round of negotiations began in 2019. Dak is now one of the league’s two $40MM-per-year players, joining Patrick Mahomes, and the sixth-year Dallas quarterback cannot be franchise-tagged after this extension expires. When addressing his top regret during his time as the team’s executive vice president, Stephen Jones said he “probably would have signed Dak the first time around; it would have been better for everybody,” via Pat Doney of NBC 5. The negotiations, which began in April 2019, led to a 2020 franchise tag and the QB’s price rising to the point he inked one of the most player-friendly deals in NFL history this past March. The Cowboys still have their fourth-round find locked up long-term, however. They just took a more difficult route to get here.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Randy Gregory has moved into position to be a full-time starter for the first time, being set to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence on a regular basis this season. The Cowboys’ oft-suspended pass rusher alluded to then-defensive coordinator Mike Nolan preferring Aldon Smith due to “favoritism.” “I felt there was a little bit of favoritism going on … refusing to let me outshine their favorite,” Gregory said in a lengthy story by The Athletic’s Dan Pompei (subscription required). “They knew I could do it, so they did what they could to keep me at bay. I had my times when I was angry. … I truly felt I got robbed of a year last year.” The NFL reinstated Gregory in late October last year. Smith, who started 16 games after making his own comeback from suspension, is now a Seahawk. New DC Dan Quinn said, via Pompei, he was surprised Gregory (27.1 defensive snaps per game in 2020) did not play more in 2020 and added that the embattled defensive end will indeed see more time this season.
  • The Washington Football Team will unveil its next nickname in 2022. That new identity will not be the Warriors, according to team president Jason Wright, who notes discussions the team held revealed “deep-seated discomfort” with that potential moniker. Regardless of what the new name ends up being, the franchise will still use its burgundy-and-gold color scheme.
  • Lane Johnson and Derek Barnett‘s restructures created a sizable chunk of cap space for the Eagles. They now have an additional $14MM in cap space, according to Yates (via Twitter). They are up past $16MM, per OverTheCap. Following the Saints’ lead, the Eagles spread out Barnett’s 2021 fifth-year option salary onto future caps by using void years. Barnett’s base salary is now $990K, with the void years stretching through 2025. The Eagles also used void years in Johnson’s restructure, spreading out the right tackle’s cap hit through 2028. He is on Philly’s books for just a $1.1MM base salary this season.

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Hoping To Take On Leadership Role

Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory has had a turbulent NFL career, having been suspended four times since he turned pro in 2015. Shortly after his latest reinstatement in September, Dallas showed some faith in the Nebraska product by extending his contract through 2021, and the 28-year-old ended up seeing time in 10 games during the 2020 campaign. While it’s difficult to put too much faith into the embattled pass rusher, Gregory is hoping to build off his 2020 season and become a team leader.

“This year, I think for me, is about really finding my role on this team,” Gregory told Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “Not as somebody who’s here and then leaves for a certain amount of time. Somebody who’s here to stay and somebody that wants to be a leader, not only vocally but on the field with my play.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things for me that I’ve always struggled with is my leadership skills on and off the field, so this year, I’m trying to be a little bit more invested because I am one of the older guys in the group. I think me, [DeMarcus Lawrence] and [Brent Urban] are the three oldest guys in our D-line group. Naturally, I feel like guys are looking at me for input and advice or looking at me to make a play and show people how it’s done.”

Gregory flashed his talent last season, tallying 3.5 sacks and 12 QB hits. However, his playing time was inconsistent, and the defensive end is hoping for more opportunities after the organization replaced defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with Dan Quinn.

“Obviously, I wanted to be out there,” Gregory said. “Obviously, I felt like there were things I could do to help the team win. I honestly felt like when I did go out there, with the sample that I was able to put out there, I’d done a pretty good job, enough so that I feel like the new staff knows what they have in me and knows what they need to do to get me where I need to be as a player.”