Rico Gathers Suspension: Why Was Cowboys TE Disciplined?

Tight end Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers will not be with the team in Week 1.

Gathers miss will the team’s opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 8 with a one game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. The NFL announced the suspension on Friday.

The suspension is linked to a marijuana possession charge against the former Baylor basketball player.

According to the Cowboys official site, last September, hours before the Cowboys made their final roster cuts, Gathers was been arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the Frisco area.

Gathers is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. He will be eligible to return to the Cowboys’ active roster Monday, Sept. 9

Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News reports that Gathers pleaded guilty and that he wouldn’t receive any jail time for the incident. It would be wiped from his record if he stayed out of trouble for 90 days. He also paid a $99 fine.

Rico Gathers played college basketball for Baylor.

What Role Does Gathers Have In Cowboys Offense

Gathers came into the league with raw athletic ability, but no college football background. During his college basketball career, Gathers was Baylor’s all-time rebound leader.

When the Cowboys took Gathers in the sixth round of the 2016 draft, the team had thoughts he could turn into the next Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates.

Through three seasons, that has not been the case.

Gathers did not get on the field his first two seasons, and his career consists of three catches for 45 yards.

Prior to minicamp Jason Garrett noted the learning curve for Gathers.

“Just continue to grow and be someone we can count on and rely on to put in the game and do things we’re asking our tight ends to do,” Garrett said. “He’s gotten better really each and every year, he takes a really good approach. I think he’s learned how to become a professional and continue to grow.”

GettyDallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten

Dallas Cowboys’ Logjam at Tight End

Gathers is on the final year of his deal and running out of chances to get on the field. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are currently battling for depth chart position, and future Hall of Famer Jason Witten — who came out of a one-year retirement this offseason — will also be in the mix.

The year before he stepped away to pursue an announcing gig on Monday Night Football, Witten was on the field for almost all of the team’s snaps.

Earlier this offseason, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Witten and the team agreed that he would play 25 snaps a game in an effort not to hinder the young tight ends on the roster from developing.

“We feel great about where Whit is at,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said last week “Naturally, he’s probably not going to play 97 percent of the snaps, but once you get 100,000 in the crowd, Whit is probably going to want to play a whole lot.”

While Witten isn’t a long term plan, he gives the Cowboys three capable tight ends on the roster. The Cowboys kept four tight ends on the 53-man roster last year, but it’s unknown if the team would reserve a spot for Gathers, especially with his suspension now looming.