FRISCO, Texas — Could Randy Gregory be back sometime in 2020?
The 27-year-old pass rusher is starting the application process for reinstatement to the NFL, according to reports, nearly 13 months since the league suspended him indefinitely for violating the league's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse and the terms of his 2018 conditional reinstatement.
The Cowboys have not commented on the reports. Per league rules, the organization cannot have contact with Gregory while he's on Reserve/Suspended.
Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Gregory in August 2018 after Gregory spent the better part of 2016 and 2017 on suspension. He played 14 games in 2018 and finished second on defense with six sacks.
Then came this current, indefinite, hiatus that sidelined him the entire 2019 season. The league has recently adopted a new collective bargaining agreement that includes less punitive measures for players who violate the substance abuse policy. How that impacts Gregory's reported reinstatement bid remains to be seen.
Substance abuse issues have followed Gregory intermittently since the Cowboys drafted him in the second round back in 2015. But Cowboys have long asserted that Gregory is dealing with a medical issue, not merely repeated violations of league policy.
"He's a pure soul, first and foremost," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in March 2019. "The proof of that is how he's thought of by everybody around him -- teammates, coaches, everyone. He's genuinely afflicted. Genuinely. It's real. He has to work through, just as you would many things as human beings, he has to work through this."
The Cowboys have a hole to fill at defensive end now that Robert Quinn, their sack leader last year (11.5), has agreed to a reported five-year, $70 million deal with the Bears.
It's too early to speculate whether Gregory could help fill that role, but the Cowboys do have him under contract through 2020. And the road back to possible reinstatement reportedly has begun.