There was a major controversy for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason regarding Randy Gregory and his contract situation. A contract worth $70 million over five years was agreed upon between the Cowboys and Gregory. Less than two hours later, a falling out over contract verbiage resulted in Gregory signing the same contract with the Denver Broncos.
Shortly after the saga, Jerry Jones and the front office awarded Dorance Armstrong with a two-year, $12 million contract extension. After the extension, Stephen Jones was quick to defend the decision, claiming the two players involved were similar from a statistical standpoint, inferring that the Cowboys got essentially the same player at a much lower price.
A large part of the Cowboys’ fanbase was very unhappy with how the entirety of this situation was handled. The core of Gregory, Micah Parsons, and DeMarcus Lawrence was something that did very well in 2021, so to see this dissipate in a matter of hours didn’t sit well with fans.
To help shore up the spot left by Gregory, the team has made several moves, starting with the extension to Armstrong. They also added former top-3 pick Dante Fowler in free agency and drafted Sam Williams in the second round, who enjoyed a breakout performance this past Sunday.
The Cowboys’ choice to keep Dorance Armstrong over Randy Gregory is shockingly paying off with Armstrong’s breakout year
Out of the three expected to fill the role of Gregory, the one that has stuck out the most is Armstrong. As it stands currently, the former fourth-round pick is making a huge impact as a pass-rusher, sitting tied for fifth in the NFL in sacks with six.
This season, in over 150 fewer pass-rush snaps, Armstrong has already matched his career-high for sacks in a season. He not only is impacting the game as a pass-rusher, but he is elite on the special teams side of things.
In Weeks 3 and 5, Armstrong made several key plays that helped change the game. Against the Giants in Week 3, the Kansas product blocked a PAT. Against the Rams in Week 5, Armstrong not only had a strip sack that resulted in a touchdown on defense, but he also blocked a punt later in the game as well.
He’s not perfect, as he does have his miscues. For instance, he could stand to become a better run defender, or a better tackler (10.2% missed tackle rate), but Armstrong has been more than serviceable for an elite defensive front. His 18 pressures this season are good for third on the team, behind Parsons and Lawrence.
To compare the two players involved in this entire story, Armstrong is paying off as being the pick to stay in Dallas. Obviously, who knows how well Gregory could be playing if he stayed with the Cowboys, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t still compare them.
This season, Gregory has only played just four games due to injury. Regardless, Armstrong still was arguably outplaying Gregory on a game-by-game basis before he got hurt. The sacks of course are an easy stat to go to — Armstrong has 0.86 sacks per game to Gregory’s 0.5.
Gregory does rack up more pressures than Armstrong, however, he does not have the presence on special teams that Armstrong does. Of course, the argument would be that he doesn’t play on special teams, but I see that as the Cowboy just being more versatile.
To wrap it up, the Joneses made a risky bet on Armstrong after losing Gregory at the last minute, and he is coming through for them. Whether the process of getting to this point was correct or not, the result has been excellent for the team and its fans. This defense is playing at an elite level this season, and Armstrong deserves credit for that.