Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory is 29 years old, and yet, has never really had a true free agency — until now. After getting his personal life in order and putting together arguably his best season as a pro with solid stats, Gregory is poised to make real money this coming offseason with a new contract.
Randy Gregory: Free Agency Overview
What the Cowboys do with Gregory will tell you a lot about what they think about his health (both physical and mental), and what they think of Micah Parsons as a pass rusher. Gregory stayed on the straight and narrow in 2021. But he’s missed 54 games in his NFL career due to a number of troubling off-field issues.
The Cowboys have a younger, cheaper, and potentially better option at defensive end in Parsons, who was a star as a rookie. One more complication to an already complicated situation? Gregory underwent surgery on an unspecified left knee injury in January, ESPN reported at the time.
Recapping Gregory’s 2021 season
Gregory had a solid year in 2021 — and did so in just 12 games. Gregory spent four games on injured reserve in the middle of the season after suffering a pretty significant calf injury. His production fell off significantly when he returned (5 of his 6 sacks and 22 of his 29 pressures came before he got hurt). Gregory also caught COVID-19 late in the year, and that seemed to take a toll as well.
Beyond the stats, Gregory — who also forced 3 fumbles and had 4 tackles for loss — simply looked better in 2021 than he did in 2020. Some of that might have been a result of being in the right place mentally. And importantly, he looked stronger in 2021 without losing the explosive first step that has earned him so many chances after off-field issues derailed his career time and again.
Gregory’s contract estimate and salary cap implications
This is the time for Gregory to make future-securing money. He’s lost millions of dollars over the course of his checkered career due to discipline. As a result, Gregory’s earned just $6.8 million as a pro. He might nearly double that total in 2022 alone.
Spotrac estimates Gregory’s market value at three years, $39.8 million. Can the Cowboys afford that? As of mid-February, they were $21.2 million over the cap.
Possible landing spots for Gregory
The most likely outcome is Gregory returns to Dallas. The organization likes him, and he’s found a comfort level there after years of mental and emotional turbulence. But on the off chance the two sides cannot reach a deal, he should have options.
Teams with a need at defensive end/edge defender include the Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, and Jacksonville Jaguars. But not all situations are created equal. Gregory would benefit from going to an organization with stability and a strong support system. Of that list, the Colts and Rams make the most sense.
What they’re saying about Gregory
“Knowing our time together, and some of the pluses, and some of the times that we’ve had to work through, and some of the not-so-fun things, that will serve us well.” — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
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