David Irving was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for the Dallas Cowboys after violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. He came back afterwards to have the best season of his career, notching seven sacks in only eight games and looking the part of a future superstar before a concussion ended his season prematurely. But with Irving healthy coming into the 2018 season, expectations were extremely high for the defensive tackle, but his hopes for a breakout year have been hurt significantly.
Sources tell Mike Fisher of the Cowboys on 247Sports, Irving is being suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2018 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Cowboys were already facing a degree of uncertainty on the defensive line with Randy Gregory still fighting for reinstatement from the NFL. Last season, they entered the year not only without Irving, but without defensive lineman Damontre Moore, who had been suspended for two games. Now the Cowboys will once again be without some of their most important talent on the defensive line to open the season.
Luckily for the Cowboys, they stocked up on depth up front this offseason. They signed defensive end Kony Ealy away from the New York Jets, added defensive tackle Jihad Ward in a trade with the Oakland Raiders, and have several other young players with the talent to step up for a stretch without Irving.
But this was a critical season for Irving. He is playing out 2018 on a one-year, $2.9 million deal that was set as his restricted free agency tender. He was given a second-round tender by the Cowboys, not expecting anyone to give him a big offer because of his history of injuries, suspensions and inconsistency. This suspension only hurts his leverage in negotiating a long-term deal with the Cowboys, and he had already angered teammates with his attitude during the offseason. Irving skipped the team’s OTAs, and while he attended mandatory minicamps, he was not on the field. Sean Lee called him out for that, and many fans felt the same way.Irving is supposed to be a cornerstone of the Cowboys’ defense this season. He was perhaps the best defender Dallas had last season, outshining even DeMarcus Lawrence when the two shared the field last year. But Lawrence is on a one-year deal worth more than $17 million, as he received the franchise tag as an unrestricted free agent. Irving wasn’t as lucky. Both of their long-term futures with the Cowboys are in doubt, but after this, Lawrence seems like a much safer bet to wear the star on his helmet for the long haul. Two suspensions do not bode well for Irving as he seeks a contract that will make him one of the most expensive tackles in the NFL.