IRVING, Texas (AP) Running back Joseph Randle was suspended four games by the NFL under the league's personal conduct policy Tuesday, one week after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys.
The suspension begins immediately even though Randle is not on an active roster.
Randle was already away from the team to deal with unspecified personal issues when he was released by the Cowboys last Tuesday. As a third-year player in Dallas, Randle started the first six games this season.
The NFL had investigated Randle's arrest in February in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, though police declined to pursue charges against the running back after a domestic disturbance complaint.
It was the second arrest in four months for Randle, who was detained on a shoplifting charge at a Dallas-area mall when police said he tried to take a bottle of cologne and a pack of underwear from a department store.
He got deferred adjudication in the case from October 2014, and the misdemeanor could be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for the next two months.
Randle, who cleared waivers and can sign with any team, backed up DeMarco Murray for two years and was the Cowboys' first choice to replace the 2014 NFL rushing champion when Murray left for NFC East rival Philadelphia in free agency.
After averaging 6.7 yards per carry in limited duty behind Murray last season, Randle rushed for 315 yards with a much-lower 4.1 average as the lead running back this year.
Randle left the team's facility Oct. 28 after coach Jason Garrett announced Darren McFadden as the starter following the team's first 100-yard game of the season against the New York Giants. Garrett said Randle's absence was excused, and Randle didn't return to the team before he was released almost a week later.
A fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2013, Randle ran afoul of the coaches in the offseason when he said ''there was a lot of meat on the bone,'' a suggestion that Murray could have done more despite breaking Emmitt Smith's franchise record with 1,845 yards rushing last season.
Randle has 822 career yards with nine touchdowns in 35 games, including eight starts.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL