The Dallas Cowboys’ patience with Joseph Randle ran out Tuesday.
The Cowboys waived the third-year running back only two days after owner Jerry Jones said the team would show “patience” with Randle as he deals with personal issues.
But as much the Cowboys empathize with Randle and have concern for his mental health, Jones felt the move was best for him and the franchise.
"It would be in the best interest of the entire team," Jones said. "There’s no individual that is above that and that is the common interest of the team. That team as a group has a tremendous pride and hope for the future so anything we make a decision on (with) a player either enhances that or we make it the other way."
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Randle nor his agent Erik Burkhardt were available for comment.
It ended a bizarre week for Randle.
He strained his oblique in the Oct. 25 game against the New York Giants and then lost his starting job to Darren McFadden as he watched from the sideline. He found out he faces discipline from the league under the personal conduct policy for his involvement in a domestic violence incident in Wichita, Kan., last spring. Randle expressed concerns about his girlfriend, calling police to his house Wednesday afternoon when he bolted from the facility, though they found nothing wrong.
The erratic behavior included him talking about retiring and going into the ministry.
Randle spent most of last week away from the team facility, including meeting with team counselors as the Cowboys expressed concern for his mental health. He did not attend Sunday’s game against Seattle at AT&T Stadium as the Cowboys made him inactive.
Jones declined to comment on whether Cowboys decision was influenced by any pending discipline Randle faces from the NFL.
"We really don’t need to go there," Jones said. "We don’t want to go there as an organization as far as our relationship with Randle. We just think it’s time for us to not have him on the roster. That’s the decision we made today and we stand ready to help him work through any of his other issues."
Vice-president Stephen Jones said it would be wrong to point to one thing as the source of Randle's troubles and the team's decision to part ways with him.
"Joe has personal issues that he’s got to get his hands around," Stephen Jones said. "Everybody wants to point to an issue – this issue or that issue. But as you just mentioned, it’s the full body of work. We have to look at it, and obviously I think, right now, football needs to be on the back burner for Joe. He needs to get his hands around some things.
“At the same time, we’re looking at our team and what’s best for our team, and that’s where we came down. But bigger than that, you have to make a decision about what’s in the best interest of that person. We come down that it’s in Joe’s best interest right now to get his hands around his personal issues."
The Cowboys were able to make the move with Randle because of the emergence of McFadden at running back and comfort they have in backups Christine Michael and Rodney Smith.
Still, Randle is another setback at running back for a team that entered the season with obvious questions on how they were going to replace 2014 NFL-leading rusher DeMarco Murray, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency.
Lance Dunber suffered a season ending knee injury Week 2.
It was Randle, however, who was supposed to be leader of the running back-by-committee approach the Cowboys planned to use to replace Murray.
Randle, a fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2013, started the first six games this season, but never took ownership of the position. He gaining 315 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 76 carries. He finished his 35-game career in Dallas with 181 carries for 820 yards and nine touchdowns.
Stephen Jones said the Cowboys have no regrets about letting Murray walk in free agency.
"That ship sailed. We don’t look back to the past," Stephen Jones said. "We’d make that same decision again. We have to develop a structure of a football team with the salary cap, and it just wasn’t one that we felt was in our best interest to have that type of money tied up.
“Would we like to pay them all? Of course we would. But you can’t pay a top receiver, a top quarterback, a top pass rusher, a top left tackle and other players that we want to pay. You’ve got to make hard decisions, and unfortunately that was a tough one for us. We’ve moved on from that."
The Cowboys never had complete trust Randle, though.
He was arrested twice in a four-month span from last October to February. He was investigated for shoplifting, marijuana possession and domestic violence.
The involvement in the domestic violence incident in Wichita, Kan., might play a role in his NFL future.
Randle didn’t face felony charges for domestic violence after the Sedgwick County (Kan.) District Attorney’s Office concluded there was “a lack of evidence” to go forward with the case in August. But the NFL still can punish him under the personal conduct policy and some sort of discipline is expected.
And that was before the events of the last week when he initially went AWOL from practice and displayed bizarre behavior.
"Players make mistakes," Stephen Jones said. "Some of them y’all know about, and some of them you don’t know about. People make mistakes, the last I checked – I know they do in our family, and that’s just part of life.
“Over the course of time, you look at those mistakes. Are people trying to get better? Are they trying to do the right thing? Do they want to be a better person, a better teammate, a better player? Then, they’re heading in the right direction and that’s one thing. Sometimes, maybe it’s just too much on your plate and you need to focus on things off the field rather than things on the field."