Everyone loves the story of a troubled person rising and bettering themselves. While he was a very effective player on the field, countless off-field issues stunted his availability to suit up. Edge rusher Randy Gregory may see his time with the Cowboys come to an end.
The 2015 second-rounder has been a common name in the headlines. That may be due to his impressive on-field performance or disappointing off-field news. The Nebraska product has yet to play an entire season and missed 63 games due to suspensions and injuries. Many teams would have given up on the troubled player, but the Cowboys kept their faith he would pull everything together.
After serving his six-game suspension last season, Gregory has kept his issues in check and avoided any disciplinary action since then. That allowed him to show off his dominant play on the field.
In nine games this season, Gregory racked up 6.0 sacks and 15 quarterback hits. While his play against the run could still use some work, his dominance as a pass rusher makes him very valuable to the team. With 26 pressures on the year, he averages just under three per game. That means quarterbacks are routinely trying to evade the speed rusher.
His play this season earned him an alternate Pro Bowl nod. That would be the first Pro Bowl selection of his career so far. If Gregory stays on the field and plays at the level you see above, he will see plenty more in the following seasons.
Dallas is thankful for the return of star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and the crucial contributions from the interior defensive line. They allow Gregory to dominate single blocks that often lead to play disruptions. Regardless of the help, Gregory has more than held his own. That allows rookie Micah Parsons to play all around the defense, which opens up the defensive playbook, meaning the group will play better as a team.
Unfortunately, the efficient play by the resurgent defender likely means a payday in the open market. As an edge rusher, he can look for around $10 million per season, if not more, and that would place him just outside the top 40 highest-paid edge rushers annually.
The financial situation of the Cowboys may make it difficult for the team to fit Gregory into the budget. It will be a significant loss for a team that finally had a dominant defensive line.
It’s never easy for highly competitive teams to keep the group together unless you have quarterback Tom Brady on your team. We will have to watch as crucial players walk away in free agency. Let’s hope Jones has another impressive draft to fill in the holes that will open up.