The wait continues for Randy Gregory, but potentially not for much longer. The veteran defensive end is currently serving an indefinite suspension that forced him to miss the entirety of the 2019 season, and he’s mostly been patient about the reinstatement process, having filed in March. That patience has since flaked away given the fact it’s now September, leading Gregory to rail against both the NFL and NFLPA for the continued “unfair” delay in a verdict being rendered. With training camp now basically in the rear view, the Cowboys are shifting to regular season preparation, and they’re still expecting to hear good news on Gregory, and soon.

A source tells CBS Sports the club believes they’ll get news from the NFL front office on Gregory’s longstanding reinstatement application at some point before the Sept. 13 clash with the Los Angeles Rams, and that the veteran pass rusher has suffered no setbacks in his bid to return to the NFL. 

In speaking to 105.3FM The Fan on Friday morning, owner Jerry Jones made it clear he’s never wavered in his push to get Gregory back on the field for 2020, and is optimistic the efforts of all involved will pay off soon. Given Jones’ level of involvement with the case, which is to say more than anyone not named Gregory, it’s definitely something factor in when assessing the state of affairs on the talented Cowboys pass rusher.

“Yes, I know every detail about Randy and the league and us,” said Jones. “I’m not at liberty to talk about those details, but I work on it probably every other day. And, so, the answer is that it is evolving, and I am positive about it.”

In an exclusive talk with CBS Sports this offseason, Gregory voiced elation at the potential to rejoin the team this season. 

“I will be back this year,” Gregory told me, unequivocally. “Difference is, I’ll be back for good this time.”

Assuming the 27-year-old gets the call he’s hoping for, it’s still not a foregone conclusion he’d be available for Week 1. He’d have to first clear COVID-19 protocols and return to the building in time to practice, ideally more than once, before head coach Mike McCarthy would consider putting him on the field after being out of service since 2018. Additionally, as the days roll by Gregory would find himself up against the NFL weekly eligibility deadline, which means even if he’s reinstated in the next few days, it’s more likely he’d be on the gameday roster in Week 2 and beyond.

As for who the Cowboys would release to make room for him, it’s not a decision they’d have to make immediately. They’d be granted a roster exemption of roughly one week to allow for time to sort things out, and would’ve be forced to release anyone unless they were hoping to activate Gregory within that span of time. 

It’s all in the hands of league commissioner Roger Goodell as to what happens next, and while it’s understandable the COVID-19 pandemic would greatly delay a decision and/or the processing of Gregory’s application, the looming start of the regular season should create a vacuum of verdicts to be rendered in cases such as his. For example, although Aldon Smith applied for and received approval to join the Cowboys prior to the mushroom cloud generated by the novel coronavirus this spring — Gregory applying shortly thereafter — Josh Gordon submitted his application only recently. 

That said, if Gordon is allowed to rejoin the Seattle Seahawks before Gregory gets a green light to do so in Dallas, things could truly get messy behind the scenes (grievance?). As it stands, Gordon is still waiting, just like Gregory, but the latter has a strong case for why he should hear back first. The good news for Gregory is the Cowboys never gave up hope he’ll return this season, and the fact the team believes his wait will soon end — with him being back in uniform. 

None of this is guaranteed though, when considering it’s completely out of their hands, but there does appear to be a glimmer of light at the end of Gregory’s tunnel in his long journey to get to this point. That’s assuming Goodell doesn’t decide to pull the emergency brake and derail the entire train. 


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