Broncos make calculated risk, sign Randy Gregory to 5 year deal worth $70 million

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory (94) celebrates against the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium.
Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory (94) celebrates against the Carolina Panthers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have made another free agency splash, as they poached Randy Gregory away from the Dallas Cowboys on a five-year deal worth $70 million dollars, with $28 million guaranteed, per Altitude Sports’ Vic Lombardi.

The deal comes just hours after it was announced that Randy Gregory would be returning to Dallas on a nearly identical deal.

Apparently, there was some language in the Cowboys’ contract offer that was a dealbreaker for Gregory, leading him to sign with the Broncos instead.

The Denver Broncos had one of the NFL’s very worst pass rushes a season ago, and the addition of Gregory has the potential to remedy that need instantly.

Gregory is a supremely pass-rusher that was once viewed as a top-three pick in the draft, before substance abuse issues with marijuana hampered his early NFL career. Those concerns led to Gregory sliding to the second round and struggling to make an impact early on in his NFL career.

Gregory missed 26 games, including the entire 2017 season, as the result of two suspensions, through his first three seasons in the league.

With that said, Gregory hasn’t tested positive for marijuana or faced a suspension from the league since January of 2017. Not only that, but as of 2021, the NFL changed their policies surrounding marijuana and marijuana testing. These changes made it so that marijuana is tested for less frequently, the threshold for what denotes a ‘positive’ test was raised (by over 300%) and lastly, it made it so that players will no longer be suspended for a positive test.

Instead, the stiffest penalty now is a fine worth up to three weeks of the player’s pay.

The change in policy makes Gregory more appealing, especially given his talent, but the biggest motivator for signing Gregory was likely his remarkable 2021 season.

In 2021, Gregory generated 29 pressures and six sacks in just 12 games last season, while producing a pass-rush win rate of 16.2%, higher than any Bronco edge-rusher from last season not-named Von Miller.

He was also reportedly the Broncos’ No. 1 target on the edge for this year’s free agency cycle, which means Paton got his guy.

While that could just be generous reporting put out there to promote the local image of George Paton and the Denver Broncos, it also lines up with Paton’s track record of taking swings on toolsy, gifted athletes with question marks.

We’ve already seen him handsomely rewarded for gambling on those types, with Caden Sterns, Baron Browning, Quinn Meinerz and Jonathon Cooper all experiencing tremendous success as rookies, while Jonas Griffith — an in-season trade acquisition — should continue to be apart of Denver’s plans moving forward.

Gregory should immediately start on the edge, opposite of Bradley Chubb, but don’t sleep on the Broncos making more moves at the position this offseason. The Broncos’ pass rush ranked last in the NFL in win rate a season ago, and they had multiple members of that group enter free agency.

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