Randy Gregory is ready to apply to the NFL for reinstatement. The Cowboys need him to be successful if they want to pressure the quarterback in 2019.
DeMarcus Lawrence is the unquestioned leader of the Cowboys’ defensive line, but he can’t pressure the quarterback all by himself in 2019. Dallas needs the NFL to reinstate Randy Gregory if they’re really going to field a disruptive front four next season.
Fortunately for Cowboys, Gregory is planning to apply for reinstatement within the next 10 days. He’s currently banned from team activities under the rules of an indefinite suspension from the league after multiple substance abuse violations. Gregory has been on the outside of the NFL looking in since February 26th.
There’s no way to know how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and company will react to Gregory’s desire to rejoin the Cowboys. What’s not up for debate is just how badly Dallas needs the 26-year-old defensive lineman back. Without him, the team’s defensive line looks awfully thin outside of perennial Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.
Head coach Jason Garrett and his staff can count on Lawrence to rack up double-digit sacks next season, but he is going to need some help to really thrive. The team has high hopes for Robert Quinn’s ability to pressure opposing signal callers on the other side of the line, but age makes counting on him a serious risk. He will only be 29 next season, but Quinn is clearly on the downside of his career. 2014 was the last time Quinn got 10 or more sacks.
The options on the interior of the line are even more concerning for the Cowboys. Neither Maliek Collins or Antwaun Woods projects to be a star at defensive tackle. The two only combined for 4.5 sacks in 2018. Rushing the passer isn’t either player’s primary responsibility in Dallas’ defensive scheme, but their inability to produce pressure on passing downs will be an issue for the Cowboys in 2019.
The reintroduction of Gregory to the team’s depth chart would give the Cowboys’ front a lot more punch up front. He only notched six sacks in 14 games last year, but he consistently collapsed the pocket when he was turned loose to rush the passer. Gregory’s versatility makes him particular difficult for opposing offenses to contain. He’s equally adept at rushing the passer from the tackle spot as he is crashing the pocket from the edge.
If Gregory can’t come back, the Cowboys will need guys like Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton to play big roles next season. Crawford managed to produce 5.5 sacks last season, but he isn’t a difference maker. Charlton has big-time talent, but the former first round pick has been a disappointment for the Cowboys since coming into the league.
The Cowboys roster has the talent to make a legitimate run at a Super Bowl title in 2019, but they’ll need a lot of good breaks to turn that dream into a reality. Getting Gregory back into the fold may be the first bit of good fortune Dallas needs to reach the promised land next year.