PALM BEACH, Fla. – As the last minute negotiations raged, the Dallas Cowboys announced that they had reached a new agreement with Randy Gregory, only to follow up when that agreement was not as certain as was seen.
Gregory instead signed a $ 70 million five-year contract with $ 28 million guaranteed with the Denver Broncos, a person with knowledge of the terms confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make the terms public.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones discussed the nature of his call with Gregory on Monday as the Broncos hosted the 2015 second-round pick that payday. Jones did not express remorse, disappointment or anger that a player he supported through suspension is now wearing another jersey. Business is business, he insists.
“I was on the phone with Randy and his agent, and I said ‘El Paso,’ that little town in West Texas. I said ‘El Paso – thank you, but no thank you’, “Jones described his notice that he was” surrendering “to Gregory’s contract terms. “And he said, ‘Well, I’ll go ahead and get on the plane.’ So we could have done something there, and they asked if we would do it, and I did not.
“I (chose not to do so) of my own free will.”
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Jones told the story Monday as he sat behind a high table at The Breakers Hotel overlooking the ocean, his voice as fatherly and melancholy as when he spoke of the Senior Bowl in January and said he and Gregory so close that they can understand each other without words. Since then, Gregory has shifted from Jones’ payroll. But Jones stressed how proud he is of the player who faced mental health challenges that contributed to violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy sufficiently to justify suspensions.
“I wish Randy, as much as I’m ever a player who does not play for the Cowboys, the best,” Jones told a handful of local reporters in his first off-season commentary this season. “He got the best I’re about and I think we got the best he’s about. I’m proud of him.
“Sometimes your closest relationship quickly becomes the most polarized and lasts the longest. I do not want that to be the case here. I want him to have a lot of success, except when he plays the Cowboys. “
Gregory’s agent Peter Schaffer expressed appreciation in response.
“Randy is on the spot in his life and career because Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have been with him for six years,” Schaffer told USA TODAY Sports by telephone on Monday night. “There is an indelible debt of gratitude to Jerry and the Cowboys. With those who not only stayed with him but helped him grow and learn life skills, he would not have been in a position to move to another team.
“It does not go unnoticed and unnoticed.”
Gregory settled for 50 games with the Cowboys, collecting 16.5 bags, 52 quarterback shots and eight forced fumbles in that stretch. His most productive season was 2021, when he posted six sacks in 12 healthy games while adding three forced fumbles, an interception and 17 quarterback shots.
The Broncos were fascinated by a pass-rusher with rare bending and high car. They paid.
“Any time you see him come off the edge with that speed and power, you want it,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said Monday morning. “He can get to the back player and this game is about the back player who plays well and the back player who is affected. (He is) able to make a difference. ”
Jones said Friday that losing Gregory, like the trade of starting receiver Amari Cooper, was not a surprise. Both were the Cowboys’ choices, the owner / general manager emphasized – Cooper’s contract was firmer than the Cowboys deemed appropriate for its use and value, Gregory’s price at a point for which the Cowboys considered the alternative feasible.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Monday he considers the team to be signing three players for the price of one. The Cowboys added defensive end Dante Fowler in free agency, and Fowler reunited with his former college and NFL coach in Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The Cowboys also brought back Dorance Armstrong in the fourth round of 2018 and re-signed linebacker Leighton Vander Esch on a one-year contract. Stephen Jones said in Gregory’s absence, the Cowboys had to find a new dynamic Easter bunny.
“We end up with (Armstrong) and Fowler and then actually get a bonus in Leighton, so it worked out,” Stephen Jones told USA TODAY Sports. “It was the plan. Clearly, if we had contracted Randy, then we would not have got those three players. So we feel very good about that situation. ”
Jerry Jones said he would be proud in any way he did to help Gregory find stability, maturity and health in his life.
“Anything that has contributed to us having him sitting here and if he does it right, he’s ready for life,” he said. “Anything I or we have contributed to that I am proud of and it could not have gone to a better guy.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’s Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.