Randy Gregory of Dallas Cowboys suspended at least one year for violating NFL substance abuse policy

 espn.com  01/05/2017 22:20:11   ESPN.com news services

The NFL has suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory without pay for a minimum of one year for another violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

His suspension is effective immediately, making him ineligible for the playoffs, which start Jan. 15 for Dallas, the top seed in the NFC. It's the third time this season Gregory has been suspended. The first was a four-game ban, followed by 10 games on top of that.

The suspension is for one calendar year, meaning Gregory could be eligible for the playoffs next season if the Cowboys make it again and Gregory doesn't have another violation.

Gregory spent Tuesday in New York, attending a hearing for an appeal of a third suspension, according to sources.

According to the NFL's substance abuse policy, "within a reasonable period of time, following the hearing, the Commissioner will issue a written decision which will constitute a full, final, and complete disposition of the appeal and which will be binding on all parties."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said he intends to support Gregory, but the latest ban raises doubt as to whether he will be on the Dallas roster when he is eligible to return. He has only one full season remaining in 2018 under his four-year rookie contract, and it won't cost the Cowboys much to cut him.

Gregory recorded the first sack of his career in the Cowboys' Week 17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He made his season debut a week earlier against the Detroit Lions.

To get Gregory on the 53-man roster, the Cowboys waived defensive end Zach Moore, who was subsequently claimed by the San Francisco 49ers. Had the Cowboys known Gregory would not be available for the playoffs, perhaps they would have made a different roster move.

Dallas drafted Gregory in the second round in 2015. He played in 12 games as a rookie.

There was promise early with a strong rookie training camp and vows from Gregory that he wanted to make good on his word to Jones that he could control his issues with marijuana. But he made it through only one season before a substance abuse suspension and didn't have a sack while missing four games with an ankle injury.

The first suspension was announced in February, and Gregory was away from the team during training camp while in rehab. The second suspension was announced in September, but Gregory remained with the team while serving the 14-game ban.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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