On Monday, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the Dallas Cowboys have “all but given up hope” on Randy Gregory, the long-suspended defensive end whose NFL reinstatement doesn’t appear to be imminent.
This … isn’t necessarily true.
Hill later clarified via Twitter that his scoop came not from the Joneses, but from “other sources” purportedly close to the situation. And his clarification was prompted by Stephen Jones’ denial of the rumor.
“When I wrote earlier that the Cowboys had all but given up on Randy Gregory’s reinstatement, I did not get that information from Jerry or Stephen Jones,” Hill tweeted. “Got it from other sources. Stephen has reached out and said the Cowboys still have hope. Nothing is guaranteed. Time will tell”
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Gregory’s Star-Crossed Career
The Cowboys’ 2015 second-round pick, Gregory ran into trouble almost immediately after turning pro. Consistently punished by commissioner Roger Goodell for ongoing, drug-related infractions, Gregory posted an out-of-nowhere six-sack 2018 campaign, showing serious pass-rushing mettle, before again landing in hot water.
In February 2019, he was suspended indefinitely for breaking the substance-abuse policy and the terms of his conditional reinstatement. That April, Dallas extended Gregory’s contract through 2020.
This past February, he officially filed for his return to the league. Gregory told NFL Network’s Jane Slater he’s “hopeful” of playing this upcoming season.
The Cowboys, too, were optimistic following Aldon Smith’s conditional reinstatement in May. Smith had been suspended across a half-decade following various — and similar — off-field incidents. If he could get another chance, thanks to the NFL no longer suspending players for marijuana, why couldn’t Gregory?
But days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, and Gregory’s status has yet to be updated. Stephen Jones admitted prior to Smith’s reinstatement that he’s been kept in the dark throughout the process.
“I think Randy may or — I’m not exactly sure where that is,” Jones said in reference to a potential meeting with Goodell. “Sometimes we’re not privy to that. We’re not sure when we’ll hear something. Obviously, the league is looking out for their best interest. As men off the field and certainly that’s what’s first and foremost and the priority is how they’re coming off the field. If ultimately they get to a point which we think they can that Roger [Goodell] feels like they can come back to work and play football and that’s in their best interest in addition to what they need off the field, then certainly we’ll welcome them back and go to work.”
Gregory would be a luxury, rather than a necessity, for a defense that upgraded at each level this offseason. Following the free-agent defections of defensive end Robert Quinn (Bears) and defensive tackle Maliek Collins (Raiders), the Cowboys brought in Smith, DL Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, spent a fifth-round pick on edge rusher Bradlee Anae, and retained 2019 starters Tyrone Crawford and Antwaun Woods.
The team has enough reclamation projects on their hands, starting with $105 million DE DeMarcus Lawrence, who recorded only five sacks last season. Lawrence vowed to improve his production in 2020 as he functions as the bedrock for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL