The NFL reinstated Gregory on a conditional basis on Tuesday, allowing him to be at camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities, but he has not been cleared to practice or play in games.
Once arrangements regarding Gregory’s clinical resources in Dallas are confirmed and he continues to abide by the substance-abuse policy, then he will be fully cleared to return.
Gregory has missed 30 of the last 32 regular-season games for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Gregory went through rehabilitation, held a job and put his life in order during his time away from the Cowboys. He met with Goodell last month in New York as part of the reinstatement process and his legal team, led by attorney Daniel Mokowitz, supplied the league a vast array of test results, recommendations and personal letters from teammates Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford and Jeff Heath.
The Cowboys are scheduled to fly to Oxnard next Tuesday and hold their first training camp practice on July 26.
The Cowboys have held on to Gregory’s rights despite the off-field troubles but have operated under a worst-case scenario that he would not play in 2018. Throughout the offseason, owner and general manager Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones, coach Jason Garrett and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli expressed hope that Gregory could get his life in order.
“I have been proud of Randy during this offseason,” Jerry Jones said on May 9. “I’m very aware of how hard he’s working to get back in the league and get back on the field.”
Gregory fell to the Cowboys in the second round of the 2015 draft because of off-field issues during his time at Nebraska. Jerry Jones was willing to take the chance on Gregory and hoped a support system that had helped other players through the years would help Gregory but it didn’t.
Gregory played in 12 games as a rookie in 2015, missing four with an ankle injury. He ended up in the NFL’s substance abuse program in 2016 and was initially suspended the first four games of that season. Another failed test led to an additional 10 games, but he was able to return for the final two regular-season games and recorded the first — and so far only — sack of his career.
He was suspended for a year prior to the 2016 playoffs and has not been around the team since.
The Cowboys retain Gregory’s rights through 2020 because of the suspensions. He signed a four-year deal in 2015.
The Cowboys like the depth they have built on their defensive line with DeMarcus Lawrence, who had 14.5 sacks in a Pro Bowl season in 2017, David Irving, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton and others. Gregory, who has been working out since his meeting with Goodell to get ready for football, showed flashes of ability when on the field but was hardly close to a finished product.
“It’s kind of like golf, if you don’t play for three or four [months] a year, it’s not the same, the timing,” Marinelli said earlier in the offseason. “I’m just excited to hopefully get a chance to work with him again.”