The frenzy of free agency officially arrived on Tuesday.
Just moments after the Cowboys announced they had agreed to terms on a new five-year deal with Randy Gregory, the defensive end changed his mind, spurning Dallas to instead agree to a five-year, $70 million deal with the Denver Broncos, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport added that a hang-up in contract language was a sticking point for Gregory in returning to the Cowboys. Per Rapoport, the Cowboys deal was also going to be for $70 million.
Gregory's shift is reminiscent of linebacker Anthony Barr, who was headed to the Jets until they agreed with C.J. Mosley in 2019. Barr later explained he didn't feel right about leaving for New York almost as soon as he agreed, and he ended up returning to the Vikings.
Gregory's move means the edge rusher is leaving the team that remained patient with and supportive of him as he repeatedly violated the league's Policy and Program on Substances of Abuse in the early portion of his career. Gregory has missed more than 50 games due to suspension and has yet to play a full season, but he showed signs of dominance off the edge in the past two seasons, recording 9.5 sacks in that span. Gregory ranked 10th among all edge-rushers in pass-rush grade, per Pro Football Focus, and he tied for the most turnovers caused by pressure with five, per Next Gen Stats, in 12 regular-season games played in 2021.
He'll bring those talents to the Mile High City, where the Broncos are aggressively reshaping their roster into that of a contender in the now-loaded AFC West. Denver agreed to a blockbuster trade to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson last week and has acted accordingly on the eve of the new league year, filling a significant need at edge rusher months after trading away franchise legend Von Miller to Los Angeles, where the future Hall of Famer went on to win a Super Bowl with the Rams.
NFL Network's James Palmer reported that the Broncos turned their attention to Gregory when it became apparent that Miller would be too expensive to sign.
With a healthy Bradley Chubb in the mix, Denver will have two excellent edge rushers set to hunt quarterbacks. Dallas, meanwhile, will soften the stunning blow of losing Gregory by retaining safety Malik Hooker on a two-year deal worth $8 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.
Hooker came to Dallas in 2021 after a promising start to his NFL career was hampered by injuries while with the Colts. Hooker appeared in 15 games, recording 44 tackles, two passes defensed and one interception in his first season with Dallas, which was facing a question at the position entering the new league year. Keeping Hooker will prevent the Cowboys from losing their top two strong safeties, as Jayron Kearse is headed to free agency and has yet to sign a new deal with Dallas.