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Everything you need to know about the Randy Gregory situation

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The big mystery that is Randy Gregory shall soon be revealed.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys love stealing talent in the second round of the NFL Draft. For the last several years, they’ve put on their fancy pants and attempted to land a star talent at a discount draft price. In 2014, they got on the phone to secure one of the top picks in the second round when they saw DeMarcus Lawrence slide into Day 2. Smart move. In 2016, they rolled the dice on Jaylon Smith after he suffered a gruesome injury that threatened his football career. While the jury is still out, that decision is also looking more favorable with each new day. And over the last two drafts, the team has watched as a talented first-round level talent fell into their laps in round two. In fact, they loved Connor Williams so much that they passed up an opportunity to trade that pick to Seattle in order to get Earl Thomas.

But then there’s Randy Gregory.

When the Cowboys selected Gregory 60th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, there were mixed reactions. People knew the inherent gamble involved with a player with Gregory’s red flags. People also knew that he was a talented edge rusher and if somehow he was able to keep his head on straight that he would be a huge steal in the draft. Unfortunately for Dallas, the latter never came to fruition. In the three years since entering the NFL, he’s only played in 14 games - 12 his rookie season in 2015, and two in the 2016 playoffs. After failing multiple drug tests, Gregory’s career in the NFL came to a halt. He did not see the field last season.

Gregory’s official hiatus from the NFL could be ending soon, as a ruling is expected some time within the next week about whether or not the Cowboys troubled pass rusher will be reinstated. What should we expect from this ordeal? Well, Mike Fisher recently provided 10 steps in trying to figure out what it all means. Here are some key things to understand involving the Gregory situation.

When will we know something?

Per Todd Archer of ESPN, the NFL’s substance abuse policy states that once the reinstatement paperwork has been filed, “all individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.”

Nobody seems to know the exact date that Gregory’s paperwork for reinstatement was submitted, but the consensus seems to be that it happened in the second half of May, 2018. Given the 60-day limit for the NFL to make a ruling, we should expect a ruling in time for Cowboys training camp, which opens on July 24.

Will it be good news?

This part is tricky. With news of 2,000 pages worth of testimonials from different people supporting Gregory, many seem to be optimistic about him getting reinstated. Bobby Belt, soon-to-be field producer for the NFL Network, recently tweeted that optimism seems to be rising about Gregory.

Fisher, perhaps relying on the same sources, writes that there will be “some good news to give” real soon. Have they heard any inside chatter to give them a reason to feel this way or are they just taking an optimistic approach? There does seem to be a handful of things in Gregory’s favor to indicate reinstatement is likely. He now has two years worth of clean drug testing to his credit and that’s instrumental. That’s a commitment of laying off the wacky tobaccy, a commitment he’s never shown before. The report not only has endorsements from current Cowboys leaders Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford, but also from experts who have a lot of experience dealing with these types of circumstances.

Things certainly appear favorable for Gregory, but many of us have zero confidence in Roger Goodell’s magic eight-ball decision making process. Why hasn’t a decision already been made? Why is it that the clock needs to be called for him to make a decision? Something just doesn’t sit right and until the good news becomes official, I’m definitely not getting my hopes up.

If he’s back, how valuable will he be?

That’s another tough question. The good news is Gregory has been making good use out of his two years off. He’s been in the weight room and running around in order to keep himself in football shape. According to sources close to Fish, he’s been training under the supervision of former Pro Bowl pass-rusher Greg Townsend.

There are reasons to temper expectations as he’s missed out on key development opportunities, but we should also remember that he’s a special talent at a really important position. And even though he missed the first 14 games of 2016, he came back with vigor.

He even got his first NFL sack against All Pro left tackle Jason Peters, despite being hit with a cut block.

The Cowboys have found themselves a star left defensive end in DeMarcus Lawrence, but they are still missing that star right defensive end. Gregory has the talent to be that guy.

Suppose he’s back and he’s fantastic...how long do the Cowboys get him for?

Gregory was drafted in 2015 and for most players selected that year - this season is the final year of their rookie deal. But that is not the case for Gregory. Because he only played in two games in 2016 and missed 2017 entirely, he only has one accrued season under his belt (2015). While nobody seems to be absolutely certain about his contract status, many people are on the same page about how they think it will play out. KD Drummond lays it down like this:

Since 2016 wasn’t an accrued season, 2015, 2018 and 2019 would mean the Cowboys only got three years out of Gregory’s four-year rookie deal. Any player out of contract with just two accrued seasons in the league is an exclusive-rights free agent. Any player out of contract with just three accrued seasons is a restricted free agent.

That’s the category Gregory will fall into if he is reinstated and on the roster for the rest of the contract.

He is under contract for 2018 and 2019 and the team will be able to offer him an RFA tender heading into 2020.

What this adds up to is three more seasons of service from Gregory if you count them slapping a tender on him when he becomes a RFA. It should also be worth noting that despite the disappointment Gregory was for the Cowboys organization so far, they have never acted in haste, spoke disparagingly about him, and have done nothing but offer their continued support. In fact, everything we’ve heard from the Cowboys suggestst they’d be happy to have him back.

So, cross your fingers and hope for the best. The Cowboys are a lot deeper at defensive end than when Gregory was originally drafted, but his talent would definitely be an asset to the team’s pass rushing rotation. The upside of Gregory is still high and if they can manage to harness his greatness, this could turn out to have a very good ending for both sides.