Dallas Cowboys

Why Cowboys gave suspended DE Randy Gregory contract extension, continue to support him

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told David Irving he had follow the rules if he wanted to play in the NFL

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told David Irving he had follow the rules if he wanted to play in the NFL
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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told David Irving he had follow the rules if he wanted to play in the NFL

Asked at the NFL owners meeting last week if the Dallas Cowboys felt indefinitely suspended defensive end Randy Gregory was serious and committed to sobriety, coach Jason Garrett didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely, absolutely.”

Never mind that Gregory has been suspended four times in his career for violating the NFL substance abuse policy, including missing all but two games in 2016 and the entire 2017 season under suspension. He was reinstated to the league in training camp last summer and played in 14 games in 2108, finishing second on the team with six sacks.

He had a setback and was suspended again in February — this time an indefinite suspension.

Yet, the Cowboys are hopeful he will return for the 2019 season and remain steadfast in their support.

They recently proved the latter by re-structuring Gregory’s 2019 contract and giving him an extension through 2019.

Gregory, who does not get paid while under suspension, got $310,000 of his $955,218 base salary for 2019 into an upfront signing bonus. He will get a bargain-basement $735,000 in 2020.

Gregory would have been a restricted free agent in 2020. The lowest tender was $2.025 million.

So if Gregory can get back and is eligible to play, it’s a big win for the Cowboys.

But it’s a bigger win for Gregory, considering what he’s dealing with and going through. The support and stability provided by the Cowboys are invaluable and he is more than an appreciative, according to his lawyer Daniel Moskowitz.

“Obviously, what Randy is doing is a private and personal matter. I can say Mr. Gregory is a walking example (and proving) the age-old saying that ‘nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,’” Moskowitz said in a statement. “The simple yet profound phrase ‘press on’ carries him as he does what he must do for himself, his daughter, family, and the Dallas Cowboys. He is grateful for the unyielding support of the Jones family and Dallas Cowboys organization.”

Garrett said the Cowboys had their eyes wide open when they took Gregory in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

He said they also understand that relapse is part of recovery but they believe Gregory is sincere in his approach to a serious problem.

“Again, without going into the details of all the things he’s done to try to get to the point where he can play for us, it’s been a very serious approach as an organization and his approach has been serious,” Garrett said. “He’s been able to make strides. He was able to come back and play for us and be a very productive player and a productive guy in our locker room but unfortunately, my understanding of all of this is sometimes relapse is part of rehab, so we’re working through the process of suspension right now with the NFL, but Randy Gregory is working very hard trying to get back, trying to get the situation under control and we’re doing everything we can under the rules to help him do that.”

Garrett said the Cowboys are supportive and hopeful but they aren’t in denial about the situation. They covered themselves at defensive end by adding Robert Quinn in a trade with the Miami Dolphins for a sixth-round pick last week.

“When you have a player like that who hasn’t been as available for you as you want him to be, you have to make sure you have other players who can be available,” Garrett said. “We’ve been very clear on that as an organization that we can’t necessarily count on him because of his history.

“Again, he did a really good job for us this past year. He played a lot of football for us. Hopefully, we can get him back to that point at some point. Right now he’s working very hard on getting his life back in order. As an organization, we’ve got to make sure we have a plan in place. We can’t assume he’s going to be available to us. We have to make sure we have players who can be impactful for us at his position.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.