Verify: Are the Cowboys the NFL's most troubled team?

Mike Leslie digs through arrest and suspension numbers to see if the Cowboys are more troubled than other teams.

Last month, the Lucky Whitehead story broke and my gut reaction was to post the story on Facebook with the caption, "It never ends with this team..."

Now, while that wasn't necessarily meant to be a literal statement, it did get my thinking. Just how often does this happen? Are the Cowboys the NFL's most troubled team?

So we decided to verify it.

First off, we wanted to look at arrests. There's a handy NFL arrest database, maintained by USA TODAY, that allowed us to tabulate the numbers. And when it comes to arrests, no, the Cowboys are not the worst offenders. In fact, they're not even close.

We used head coach Jason Garrett's tenure as our timeframe. And in that span, the Cowboys have had nine player arrests. That's tied for 17th out of 32 teams in the NFL -- less than half the number of league-leader Minnesota.

It's when looking at suspensions that the Cowboys are seemingly always in trouble.

During Garrett's tenure, Cowboys players have missed the highest number of games, due to the second-highest number of suspensions in the NFL -- 112 games missed by Cowboys players, from 2011-2017, according to Spotrac.

However, we’ll take it a step further. In the first three years of Garrett's tenure, the Cowboys only had one player get suspended, for a grand total of four games.

But, since 2014, the Cowboys have racked up 16 suspensions for a total of 108 games missed.  That's twice the total of third place Cleveland, and nearly twice the total of second place Baltimore.

And that matters. It’s huge. Because the Cowboys can't win games if their best players are stuck on the sidelines in street clothes.

So what did we verify? For one, no the Cowboys are not "always getting arrested." In fact, their total is nowhere close to the worst in the NFL. However, it's when you incorporate suspensions into the definition of "getting in trouble" that you see the big problem.

And now? You can add one more suspension, and six more games, thanks to Zeke Elliott.

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