Randy Gregory

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Randy Gregory To Start In 2021?

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, giving him a $200K signing bonus and a chance to earn up to $2.1MM next season.

And as Jon Machota of The Athletic writes, the Cowboys’ faith in Gregory may manifest itself in another way. Machota expects the 28-year-old to serve as the club’s starting right defensive end when Week 1 of the 2021 season rolls around.

Gregory appeared in 10 games for Dallas last season, but he did not start any of them. He managed 3.5 sacks in those 10 games, but his impact went beyond the sack total. He tallied 16 QB pressures, forced three fumbles, and received a strong 80.5 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, whose metrics also considered him a stout run defender.

Given what he was able to accomplish with only three weeks of practice following his reinstatement — and considering that he logged 40 or more snaps in only two games last year — there is reason to believe Gregory will have his long-anticipated breakout in 2021 with a full offseason of work. Plus, the Cowboys will need to get as many contributions as they can from players with modest cap hits like Gregory, since there’s a good chance the club will need to carry a $37.7MM cap charge for QB Dak Prescott on the books until at least July, if not the whole season.

Dallas will be switching from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 look under new DC Dan Quinn, so Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence will form a potentially dangerous tandem as bookends of the team’s defensive front. Because another troubled pass rusher, Aldon Smith, is a better fit in a 3-4 defense, Machota believes Smith could be looking for a new employer in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Placed On Active Roster

This weekend, Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory could see the field for the first time since the 2018 campaign. The team announced that the 27-year-old has been removed from the commissioner’s exempt list and placed on their active roster.

Gregory hasn’t played an NFL game since earning his fourth career suspension during the 2019 offseason. He was reinstated by the league back in September, and he’s been practicing with the team for the past few weeks.

Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News tweets that Gregory has an opportunity to play this weekend, although that’s not a huge surprise. After all, the team had already committed to Gregory by inking him to an extension back in September.

The pass rusher has only played in 28 of a possible 80 NFL games, compiling an underwhelming 45 tackles, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. However, six of those sacks came during his 2018 campaign, so maybe things started to click for the former Nebraska standout. Both teammates and coaches recently lauded Gregory for his performance at practice.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys To Extend Randy Gregory

Shortly after Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement, the Cowboys are giving him an extension. They agreed to terms on a deal that will keep Gregory under contract through 2021, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Gregory’s rookie contact, which has tolled considerably due to his four suspensions as a pro, ran through 2020. The veteran defensive end will be eligible to return this season in Week 7. This deal comes with a $200K signing bonus, per ESPN.com’s Todd Archer, who adds Gregory can make up to $2.1MM in 2021.

The NFL reinstated Gregory last week. The former second-round pick had been banned under the 2011 CBA’s substance-abuse policy since February 2019. He has not played since the 2018 season. The Cowboys, who have not exactly been shy regarding defenders with checkered pasts in recent years, have acted aggressively with suspended defensive ends this offseason. Dallas’ D-line now also includes Aldon Smith, who has not played since 2015. Both Smith and Gregory were reinstated this year.

Gregory, 27, registered six of his seven career sacks in 2018. The Cowboys switched out their DeMarcus Lawrence support staff this offseason, going from Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett to Gregory, Smith and Everson Griffen. Tyrone Crawford remains on the roster as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL To Reinstate Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

Randy Gregory may well have a chance to revive his career. The oft-suspended Cowboys defensive end received news the NFL conditionally reinstated him Friday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Gregory confirmed the development (on Twitter).

Fairly recently, the Cowboys were not counting on Gregory being reinstated in time for the start of the season. But the team continued to have the former second-round pick in its plans. Gregory has been suspended four times and has not played since 2018, but the Nebraska product may be set for a role with the 2020 Cowboys after all.

Gregory, however, still has more checkpoints to clear. While he can report to the Cowboys on Monday, he cannot practice until Oct. 5, Pelissero and NFL.com’s Jane Slater report (via Twitter). He will not be permitted to play in a game until at least Week 7. The 27-year-old defender will be paid, however, while he goes through this acclimation period, Pelissero tweets.

Gregory could join fellow suspension regular Aldon Smith as a rotational Cowboys pass rusher before the season’s halfway point. These two certainly represent risks, but neither is costing the team too much. Gregory is set to make just $825K in base salary this season.

Suspended for substance abuse twice in 2016, once in 2017 and again last year, Gregory remains on his rookie contract. He has certainly not lived up to expectations. Once viewed as a surefire first-round talent, the ex-Cornhusker has registered just seven sacks and played in only 28 of a possible 80 NFL games. But six of those sacks came in 2018, and Gregory could fit in on a suddenly deep Dallas defensive end crew. The Cowboys signed Smith and Everson Griffen this offseason to work alongside DeMarcus Lawrence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Barrett, Gregory, Washington

The Buccaneers look to be one of the many teams set to carry a franchise tag number on their payroll this season. Shaquil Barrett and the Bucs were believed to be far apart on terms over the weekend, and the breakout pass rusher expects to play this season on the tag.

I would love to get a deal done. I know they would love to get a deal done. But just the situation of the world right now is making it hard to get a deal done,” Barrett said during an NFL Network appearance (via NFL.com). “So if we get one done, I’m going to be happy. But if not, I’m still happy to be down here for another year and potentially to get a deal done in the future once we do figure out how the season’s going to go and how next year possibly will be.

“I still have some hope for it, but I’m more optimistic for the one-year to get done over a long-term deal.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has clouded the NFL financial picture. Although some teams have come to extension agreements, most franchises have held off. Of the 15 players who received the franchise tag this year, only one (Chris Jones) has reached an extension agreement. With Barrett upping his single-season sack career high from 5.5 to a Bucs-record 19.5, he profiled as a possible “prove it” player. It looks like the sides will huddle up again after the season.

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • After firing multiple front office execs last week, Washington added some staffers. The team will hire Eric Stokes as its director of pro scouting, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Washington is also adding longtime scout Don Warren to be its assistant director of pro personnel, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Both will come to Washington after years with Carolina, following Ron Rivera in that regard. For Warren, this will be a reunion. He won three Super Bowls with Washington as a tight end and previously served as a scout with the franchise from 2005-09.
  • The Cowboys refuse to give up on Randy Gregory. Despite the Cowboys losing hope he will be reinstated in time for this season, they would like to have the suspended defensive end back in a non-playing capacity for the time being, Todd Archer of ESPN.com notes. Gregory has been suspended four times since entering the league. He has not played since the 2018 season.
  • The Saints should be expected to sign a tackle at some point before the season, Katherine Terrell of The Athletic writes (subscription required). New Orleans has entrenched starters Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk and added ex-Ravens starter/swingman James Hurst this offseason. But the Saints have been proponents of O-line fortification, so it would not be especially surprising to see them further bolster the group. That said, Hurst and interior lineman Nick Easton qualify as solid backups.
  • Perhaps following the Saints’ lead, the Cardinals had former CFL quarterback Chris Streveler sit in on their special teams meetings during the virtual offseason period, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com notes. While the Cardinals communicated to the Grey Cup-winning quarterback he will not change positions upon moving south, a Taysom Hill-type role may be how Streveler makes the team. Brett Hundley and former UDFA Drew Anderson are the other QBs on Arizona’s roster.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Eagles, Williams

Two players linked to the Cowboys in recent weeks are not in the team’s plans, it appears. Jadeveon Clowney has the Cowboys and Saints at or near the top of his figurative list, but the pass rusher who has been connected to nearly half the league this offseason is off Dallas’ radar, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. That also applies to David Njoku, the Browns tight end connected to the Cowboys after his trade request surfaced recently. The Cowboys signed Aldon Smith and have Tyrone Crawford and four recent draft picks joining DeMarcus Lawrence at defensive end. They also are looking likely to carry Dak Prescott‘s $31.4MM cap number on their books this season, limiting funding for a Clowney deal. At tight end, the Cowboys lost Jason Witten but extended Blake Jarwin. Beyond Jarwin, however, the team is fairly thin at this spot.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • One member of the Cowboys’ D-end contingent may not have a chance to supplement Lawrence. The Cowboys have continued to hope for the NFL to reinstate Randy Gregory, but as of Monday, Hill adds that the team has largely given up on this notion. The NFL banned Gregory indefinitely for substance abuse, and although the new CBA’s suspension structure is focused more on PEDs, the former second-round pick was suspended four times under the previous CBA’s discipline structure. Despite being drafted in 2015, Gregory has played 28 career games.
  • Returning to the Clowney news cycle, the free agent edge rusher wants to join a winning team, veteran Seattle-based NFL reporter John Clayton said during an ESPN 97.3 radio interview (via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.radio.com), adding that the Eagles will appeal to the free agent. Clowney’s hesitance about the Browns stemmed from their modern history as a losing team; his Dolphins reluctance did as well, Clayton adds. The Eagles were unwilling to approach Clowney’s lofty asking price earlier this offseason, but with the Browns bowing out and the Seahawks not expected to match their previous offer, his price may now be reduced. And Philadelphia has not been shy about loading up along its lines.
  • Although the Giants plan to pay at least $16.1MM to see if Leonard Williams fits into Patrick Graham‘s defensive scheme, they have not given up on a long-term fit. Big Blue and Williams did not come close on an extension agreement, but Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes the team can still see a Williams accord coming to pass after the 2020 season. To secure the kind of money he seeks, Williams will need to improve on his half-sack (in 15 games) showing of 2019.
  • The Eagles are ready to increase T.J. Edwards‘ role. Despite the second-year player arriving in the league as a UDFA, the Eagles are penciling him in as their starting middle linebacker, Shorr-Parks notes. A Wisconsin alum, Edwards played just 11% of Philly’s 2019 defensive snaps. But the Eagles cut Nigel Bradham and do not have a host of high-profile names at linebacker. The team did draft two linebackers — in Rounds 3 and 6 — this year, however. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made this a bad year for rookie development.