Defensive end Randy Gregory may be suspended indefinitely, but the Dallas Cowboys aren't giving up on the edge defender, despite being suspended for the fourth time in his career.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett addressed the media at the NFL combine and reaffirmed the club's belief in the former 2015 second-round pick.
"I think there’s certainly a point with different players," said Garrett. "We don’t think we’re at that point with Randy right now for all the reasons I have described. He’s a good person who’s worked very hard to get this problem under control so we’ll continue to support him."
Gregory was seen as a problem pick four years ago when at the combine he failed a drug test for marijuana. The Cowboys took the risk anyway because they felt they had enough character players on the team to offset any problems Gregory might present. The organization had their eyes open with the former Nebraska Cornhusker.
"Our eyes were wide open about what Randy's situation was when we drafted him," said Garrett. "We fully support Randy. Randy is a good young man. He has some issues he has been dealing with. He has tried to deal with those issues head on from day one. He spent a lot of time getting professional help for his issues. He has worked very hard."
After Gregory's rookie season in which he battled an ankle injury that limited his availability, the defensive end was suspended the first four games of 2016 for violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. After his February suspension, Gregory later failed another drug test in July and had another 10 games tacked on to his four-game ban. Another failed drug test in November of 2016 risked his being suspended for a full calendar year. The ban was upheld on Jan. 5, 2017 and Gregory missed the entire season.
After a conditional reinstatement a week before training camp in 2018, Gregory met the full conditions and appeared in 14 games for the Cowboys, registering six sacks, two forced fumbles, and 25 total tackles.
While Gregory has had his issues violating the league's policy on substance abuse, Garrett still believes in the defensive end's resolve to return to football and play at a high level.
Said Garrett: "He is very serious minded about trying to get back and be an established football player. He did a really good job for us this [past] year after working through a lot of different obstacles. Unfortunately, he has had a setback and he is not going to be with us for the near term. But we will continue to support him. He is a good young man. He has worked very hard to try to address some challenging issues."
Gregory will not be with the team during his suspension, which means no participation in the club's offseason program. However, Gregory will continue to get professional help for his issues related to substance abuse.
"I do believe he’s made great strides in this area and the way it’s been explained to me is sometimes relapse is part of rehab," said Garrett. "I think that’s something he’ll continue to work through. Unfortunately the NFL has this policy that sometimes suspends players in these situations but we’ll continue to try to support him. I know he’s working very hard to get his issues under control."
In the meantime, the Cowboys have to determine how they will address the defensive line. With Gregory unavailable indefinitely, and defensive lineman David Irving set to hit free agency, the Cowboys may need to use some of their early draft capital to bolster the defensive line.
Do you think that the Cowboys should stick by Randy Gregory or do you feel like it’s time to move on? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.