It’s never easy “keeping the band together,” but the Dallas Cowboys are going to give it their best shot. Despite his issues, that includes edge rusher Randy Gregory.
Continuity in the NFL is usually a good thing, although the Cowboys’ disappointing results over the past two years under head coach Mike McCarthy may make some fans think differently. Either way, it’s clear that Dallas cares about maintaining familiarity and a consistent core of players.
That sentiment was restated again on February 28, as the Cowboys arrived at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. During a talk with on-hand media, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones was asked about where he sees the team’s available funds going this offseason.
Spoiler: Dallas isn’t looking to spend big elsewhere, and instead are focused on keeping names like Gregory.
“In general, from a money standpoint, if I’m looking into a crystal ball right now, I see most of our money that would go in free agency going toward our current players,” Jones said. “Doesn’t mean that won’t change. We might come across a value on a player that we say, ‘Hey, it’s just one we got to take.’ I don’t want to rule it out. But, in general, we go to our players and then we have to be efficient in the draft in terms of improving the team.”
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Franchise Tag Open for Gregory
Besides his initial explanation of how the Cowboys will attack free agency, Jones was specifically asked about franchise tag options. Gregory and tight end Dalton Schultz are two primary candidates for a franchise tag or transition tag, which would have to be announced by March 8.
Jones didn’t give a direct answer, or even one that committed to giving or not giving Gregory a franchise tag. However, he did confirm it is a possibility.
“Wouldn’t rule it out,” said Jones. “That’s in the strategy meetings.”
So, the update is essentially all options are still on the table, even franchise tagging. Sports Illustrated reports that Gregory’s franchise tag would cost a whopping $20 million, which feels wildly expensive for his production.
It is worth noting that the Cowboys could use the transition tag instead, which would cost around $16 million and give them the option to match any other offer a team might send Gregory’s way, if there’s still interest.
Has Gregory Earned a Tag?
Since being drafted by Dallas in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL draft, Gregory has had a fairly rough NFL career. Violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy sidelined the former Nebraska Husker for the 2017 and 2019 seasons, and he’s played just 50 games since being drafted.
More concerningly, he only has 16.5 regular season sacks in those 50 games. While his six sacks in 2021 was his best return yet, it’s still mediocre-at-best production from the 29-year-old.
If the Cowboys are going to pay somewhere around $16 or 20 million for an edge rusher, it needs to be someone who can put up at least 10-12 sacks a year. Gregory just eclipsed that total with this past season’s production, and that speaks volumes.