OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys officially released Lucky Whitehead on Monday afternoon, hours after learning of reports that the third-year wide receiver was arrested over a month ago.
The team officially announced Whitehead's release as its first training camp practice got underway here in Oxnard. Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the decision resulted from "a culmination of things over a period of time."
"I just think we've given Lucky a lot of different chances along the way going back to last year," Jones said. "I think we just decided it was time to go in a different direction."
During Monday's morning walkthrough, news broke that Whitehead, a backup receiver and primary returner the last two seasons, was reportedly charged with misdemeanor larceny for shoplifting in his home state of Virginia on June 22 and then charged for failing to appear for a July 6 court date.
After the walkthrough, head coach Jason Garrett said he first learned of Whitehead's reported arrest as he came off the practice field. He said the team would gather more information before deciding a course of action.
After the afternoon practice, Garrett explained the team's rationale for parting ways with Whitehead.
"There's a certain way that we want to handle ourselves on and off the field. There's a standard that we have," Garrett said. "We believe very strongly in adhering to those standards and trying to uphold them each and every day in everything that we do.
"When you have someone in your program, in this environment, in this structure, and they don't grow and develop and they make the same mistakes over and over again, it's time to move on."
Garrett was asked about reported claims by Whitehead's agent that his client was not in Virginia at the time of the arrest and it's a case of mistaken identity.
"In handling the situation and evaluating it with the authorities there and in talking to him," Garrett said, "we just didn't feel like it's in the best interest of the Cowboys to have him with us."[embeddedad0]
(Update: Tuesday morning, Virginia police said the person arrested on June 22 was not Whitehead, according to multiple reports. The Cowboys stated Monday that the decision to release Whitehead was for cumulative reasons, not one in particular.)
Whitehead made the roster as an undrafted rookie in 2015 and went on to play in 30 games over the last two seasons, catching nine passes for 64 yards and rushing 20 times for 189 yards. He averaged 6.9 yards on 44 punt returns and 25.6 yards on 33 kickoff returns.
Last season, he did not make the Dec. 11 road trip against the Giants after missing a team meeting, a violation of team rules.
Whitehead's release comes one day after Cowboys officials spent several minutes at the camp-opening press conference answering questions about team character in the wake of multiple off-the-field incidents in the last several weeks.
"I don't think it's anything to do with anybody else," Jones said. "No different than drafting a player. Each situation stands on its own merit. I'm sure you're aware he's been involved in a lot of different situations over the last 12 months. We decided it was time."
For now, the Cowboys have an open spot on their 90-man camp roster that could be used to add another receiver. Among their 10 receivers is 2017 fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer, who entered camp expected to compete with Whitehead for a backup spot and primary return duties.