Per multiple sources, including Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent has decided to retire from football. Brent is facing intoxication manslaughter for the drunk driving accident that caused the death of friend and fellow Cowboy, Jerry Brown, Jr. late last fall. Since his arrest, Brent has failed two drug tests that resulted in him being jailed as a violation of his bond. The retirement has been confirmed by Brent's agent, Peter Schaffer.
It was expected that the league would be deciding on a suspension for Brent over the next days or weeks; leading to a resolution on his playing status that several fans have clamored for in wake of his missteps. With the start of training camp less than 72 hours away, this scenario could have possibly been a central theme for a team that is trying to do everything to simply focus on football moving forward.
Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Brent made the following statement: "This is the right decision for me, and something that I have given a lot of thought to."
Speaking to his priorities off the field: "Those priorities are more important than football. Doing the right things in life are more important than football."
Brent's trial date is set for September 23rd, 2013. If convicted, he could face anywhere from 2 to 20 years in jail. The move to retire may solve the PR issue that all three interested parties were approaching.
The NFL would be looking to suspend a player before he had his day in court. Although not unprecedented, the league surely can't be disappointed that this is now taken off of their plates in the midst of a very troubling offseason for NFL players and executives alike. The Cowboys will no longer have the burden of trying to rationalize extending support to a player that even in the face of jail time could not keep himself from breaking the law again; regardless of how minor one may view smoking marijuana.
Brent's actions can possibly be interpreted as him owning up to the situation that he finds himself in and realizing the gravity of the situation he is facing. Should the legal situation turn out in Brent's favor, he simply has to unretire. His rights would still be owned by the Dallas Cowboys and the league could then revisit the possiblity of a suspension.
Brent was originally drafted by the Cowboys as a 7th-round supplemental choice in 2010 out of the University of Illinois. While there, Brent pleased guilty to a charge of driving under the influence. He was sentenced to two years probation and 60 days in jail.
As a player, Brent had been coming into his own as a nose tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Replacing the injured Jay Ratliff, Brent had accrued a cumulative game grade of +6.0 for the 2012 season before the accident, per Pro Football Focus. He wasn't the penetrating pass rushing threat that Ratliff was, but held up extremely nicely against double teams and was a force against the run game. His career lasted 39 games with 5 starts, all occurring in 2012. Brent totaled 1.5 sacks over his career.
With his retirement, the Cowboys get an additional $630,000 of salary cap space; Brent's 2013 salary. He was in the final year of his deal.
For now, the Cowboys are left with four available slots on the roster as they prepare for their first official practice of 2013, Sunday morning in Oxnard, CA. Fans can expect additions to the roster to come in short order.