FRISCO, Texas – The NFL finally provided clarity on Randy Gregory's much-discussed disciplinary situation on Thursday.
The league formally announced that Gregory has been given a 10-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy. Combined with the four-game suspension he received in February, it means the second-year defensive end will be out a grand total of 14 games this season.
Gregory will be eligible to return to the Cowboys' active roster on Monday, Dec. 19 – immediately following the Week 15 game against Tampa Bay. He'll be available for the Week 16 game against Detroit and the season finale at Philadelphia.
This concludes a long and strange situation since Gregory was first suspended following his rookie season. Despite no official word from the NFL, speculation began over the summer that he was facing an additional 10-game suspension for further violations. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones went as far as to speculate about Gregory's potential appeal, despite the lack of an official ruling from the league.
In the midst of that, Gregory entered a treatment facility over the summer, missing all of training camp and the team's preseason in the process. He returned to the team facility once the season started and is permitted to attend meetings and workouts – but he cannot play or practice.
Last week, Jones said in a radio interview that the NFL Players Association had decided to withdraw the appeal, effectively ending Gregory's chance of avoiding further discipline.
"You have to have the support of the Players Association or else it's hopeless, and they felt that, legally – technically, legally – that he didn't have an appeal. And that decision was made there," Jones said.
The leaves the Cowboys without one of their highly-talented defensive ends for 87 percent of the season. Their other key pass rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence, is set to return from his four-game suspension on Oct. 3 – the day after this weekend's game against San Francisco.
Even with Lawrence returning to the fold, it has to be a bitter pill to swallow for the Cowboys, who faced no shortage of scrutiny for drafting Gregory No. 60 overall despite his documented history of off-field problems – including a failed drug test at the 2015 NFL Combine.
In that same radio interview, Jones acknowledged the pick has not gone according to plan. But with Gregory working on just the second year of a four-year contract, Jones was still hopeful he could turn things around.
"If you look at the amount of playtime that we've gotten out of a second-round pick, then I'd say it's not been good," Jones said. "But ultimately, if we can have him on the field – which would rightfully be questioned. But if we could have him on the field, it would be an outstanding pick."