Randy Gregory

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Latest On Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

Yesterday, the NFL granted reinstatement to Aldon Smith, but it sounds like his teammate will have to wait a bit longer. ESPN’s Todd Archer reports that Randy Gregory “remains in the return process” from his suspension.

We heard back in March that the organization was expecting the defensive end to be reinstated and be back with the team next season. However, the former second-round pick remains suspended indefinitely, and a report from April indicated that we wouldn’t receive any clarity until after the NFL Draft. That event has obviously come and gone, and while Smith may have been reinstated by the league, it sounds like Gregory’s case is taking longer to settle.

Gregory missed the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons because of substance-abuse suspensions. The 27-year-old has been productive when he’s seen the field, including a 2018 campaign where he compiled 25 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles in 14 games. Gregory was set to apply for reinstatement last summer, but an apparent slip-up in his aftercare program helped put those plans on hold.

While it sounds like Gregory still has a ways to go until he’s reinstated by the league, his agent, Peter Schaffer, sounded optimistic following yesterday’s news about Smith.

“We are very happy for Alden and wish him all the luck in the world and a successful resumption of his career,” Schaffer said. “It’s refreshing to see the NFL following through on their stated goal to focus more on rehabbing players than punishing players.”

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East Notes: Giants, Love, Cowboys

Holding a top-six pick for the third straight year, the Giants have been linked to either Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons or a tackle. The Giants are immersed in thorough examination of Simmons, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noting the team is determining how he would fit in its scheme. Simmons saw action all over the formation for the Tigers but is viewed as either a linebacker or safety in the NFL. Some teams view Simmons as a safety. It is unclear where the Giants place him, though Joe Judge comes from a Patriots organization that valued versatility among defenders.

Regardless, rival GMs expect Dave Gettleman to select a tackle at No. 4 overall. Gettleman’s offensive line overhaul has not accomplished what he’d hoped, and a first-round pick could be slotted at right tackle before taking over for 2021 cap-casualty candidate Nate Solder on the left side. The Giants have been connected to Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs at multiple junctures this offseason.

Here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • Gettleman has taken his share of heat since becoming Giants GM in December 2017. He has, however, made some philosophical changes since taking over. He admitted to have miscalculated the Giants’ ability to be competitive in his first season as GM, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. From October 2018 to March 2019, Gettleman traded big-ticket free agent additions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon while also dealing Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Apple. In addition to accepting this is a rebuild, Gettleman is now OK with negotiating contracts in-season, Schwartz adds.
  • Were the Lions to trade out of the No. 3 slot or pass on Jeffrey Okudah, the Giants may still pass on the Ohio State cornerback. Given the Giants’ 2019 first-round selection of Deandre Baker and their recent James Bradberry deal, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY would expect them to avoid picking a corner fourth overall.
  • A bold Dolphins strategy would be passing on a quarterback at No. 5 and preparing a Jordan Love move later in the first round. Other teams are convinced the Dolphins are intrigued by the Utah State prospect — whom Miami secured a visit with before the NFL shut down that process — but doubt they will gamble to that degree, La Canfora notes. The Dolphins’ actions over the past year and change have been centered around landing their franchise quarterback in this draft. Although they hold the Nos. 18 and 26 picks, it would be a risk to let Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert go in hopes of landing Love later.
  • The NFL’s decisions on Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith are not expected to come until after the draft, but the Cowboys may have some different plans for them under DC Mike Nolan than they would have under Rod Marinelli. Instead of using their edge defenders as pure 4-3 defensive ends, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said (via USA Today’s Jori Epstein) he could envision Smith and Gregory as hybrid-type players who rush from linebacker positions as well as defensive end slots. Gregory has only played defensive end as a pro, while Smith has mostly worked as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Latest On Aldon Smith, Randy Gregory

Cowboys defenders Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory will probably have to wait until after the draft to see if they’re cleared to play by the NFL, ESPN.com’s Ed Werder hears. Both players are under suspension for substance abuse policy violations and they won’t be able to take the field unless Roger Goodell gives them the green light. 

[RELATED: Latest On Cowboys, Prescott]

Smith hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since his 2015 season with the Raiders due to off-the-field trouble and personal issues. Before that downward trend, Smith was one of the league’s brightest stars. In his first two pro seasons, Smith notched 33.5 sacks. And, even when he was limited to just eleven games in 2013, he still managed to bring down the QB 8.5 times.

For the last few years, Smith has mostly been off of the NFL radar. Then, this offseason, the Cowboys gave him a chance at redemption. Smith is set to earn just $2MM in base salary, plus another $2MM in sack incentives, but the deal is completely non-guaranteed. If Smith isn’t cleared to play, he won’t get paid.

Gregory has also been plagued by personal issues – he’s played a grand total of 28 games across five years with the Cowboys. Jerry Jones has stood by the former second round pick and, this year, he’s especially hopeful that Gregory will be able to stay on the right track. Without Robert Quinn, the Cowboys badly need the help.

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Cowboys Expect Randy Gregory Return

9:48pm: Gregory has made the move to file for reinstatement, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports. The league has 60 days to approve or deny the application.

9:30pm: The new CBA significantly loosened constraints for non-PED substance abuse, and at least one player who ran afoul of the previous CBA’s off-field guidelines may be set for a return to action.

The Cowboys are expecting Randy Gregory to be reinstated and be back with the team next season, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reports. A former second-round pick remains suspended indefinitely. Gregory missed the entire 2017 and ’19 seasons because of substance-abuse suspensions; he registered six sacks in 2018. The 27-year-old defensive end said recently he wants to play next season.

Gregory plans to apply for reinstatement soon, and Moore notes the Cowboys are willing to give him another chance. His Cowboys contract runs through the 2020 season. Gregory was set to apply for reinstatement last summer, but Moore indicates a slip-up in his aftercare program helped put those plans on hold.

This CBA will only produce marijuana-based suspensions in extreme cases (and only when players fail to cooperate with treatment) and, while DUIs will be dealt with in a stricter manner than they once were, other substance-abuse restrictions have been loosened. This leaves Gregory and others in limbo, but the Cowboys are optimistic on this front. This will, however, be an interesting challenge for Roger Goodell. Gregory has been suspended four times since coming into the league.

The Cowboys, however, are not planning on having David Irving back. The NFL suspended Irving indefinitely because of substance abuse, doing so just before the defensive lineman was to enter free agency last year. While the Cowboys retain his rights, Moore adds they have moved on.

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