While free agency officially begins in March, roster turnover isn’t too far away. The Cowboys will indeed add and presumably release players, along with letting some go without a new contract.
However, the majority of the 2018 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they’ve been and where they’re going.
Today, we’ll continue the series with defensive end Randy Gregory.
What’s Been Good: Just being on the field was a great start for Gregory, who many thought would never make a full recovery from being suspended 30 games in the last two seasons. So everything he did on the field was just a bonus. Of those things, Gregory was able to get some pressure off the edge, which is why the Cowboys drafted him at the No. 60 spot in the 2015 NFL Draft. He finished second on the team with 28 quarterback pressures and second in sacks with six.
What’s Been Bad: The penalties were a big problem for Gregory in 2018. It wasn’t just that he was tied for second-most on the team with 10, it was the timing of them that proved to be problematic. Of his 10 infractions, eight of which led to a first down for Cowboys opponents. One personal foul led to a field goal before the half in Seattle, another offside call wiped away a sack/fumble and there were plenty of other unnecessary calls that went against Gregory, who finished the season with a team-high 97 yards penalized.
2017 Highlight: When Gregory got either a sack or tackle for loss, the Cowboys were 7-0 in 2018. He had both a sack and tackle behind the line of scrimmage in the blowout win over Jacksonville, but Gregory’s best play was probably the sack/fumble against the Bucs that led to Jaylon Smith’s 69-yard fumble return for a TD.
What’s Next: Gregory is under contract until 2020, when he will be a restricted free agent. By then, we should have an even better idea how Gregory has developed both on and off the field. One goal for Gregory could be developing his all-around game. While he was second on the team in sacks and pressures, he was 17th in tackles, with just 15 overall. That tied with rookie Dorrance Armstrong, who played in just 272 defensive snaps, as compared to Gregory, who had 457.
While the Cowboys were just happy to get Randy Gregory back on the field, his success seemed to be tied the overall wins. The Cowboys had a 7-0 record when Gregory made a big play.
Bryan’s Bottom Line: I’ll take the heat for my original opinion on Randy Gregory. I never thought that he would have played another down in the NFL after all the things off the field that he went through. Where I miss evaluated Gregory was his desire to get his life back together to the point where he could play again. As Jason Garrett would say, Gregory wasn’t perfect but he played well enough to consider him a reliable player in the rotation. The more the season wore on you got the feeling that the coaching staff felt like they could lean on him more and for longer periods of the game. Gregory is not going to be DeMarcus Lawrence or Tyrone Crawford when it comes to playing the run but with his first off season in the weight room in a while his strength levels should improve and that will benefit his overall game.