The Dallas Cowboys have released receiver Dez Bryant, ending an eight-year relationship with one of their biggest stars of the last two decades.
Releasing Bryant creates $8.5 million in salary cap space. He was scheduled to count $16.5 million against this year's salary cap. The remaining $8 million will count as dead money in 2018.
The #Cowboys have released WR Dez Bryant, source said. It's done.
This move isn't shocking. Dez has been targeted as a potential release for months, with some predicting that 2017 would be a make-or-break season.
Despite playing all 16 games, Bryant only managed 838 yards and six touchdowns on 69 catches. He was targeted 132 times, giving him one of the worst efficiency ratings of the league's starting receivers.
How much of this due to chemistry issues with Dak Prescott or the decline of Bryant's physical ability is hard to say. Whatever the factors, Dallas clearly could no longer justify paying Dez like one of the league's elite receivers without the production to support it.
Bryant leaves Dallas as the franchise leader in receiving touchdowns, scoring 73 since entering the NFL in 2010. He passed "Bullet" Bob Hayes (71) last season on the all-time list.
Dez also ranks third in catches behind Jason Witten and Michael Irvin. He is fifth in receiving yardage behind Witten, Irvin, Tony Hill, and Drew Pearson.
Unfortunately, Bryant's physical playing style has contributed to his early decline. He also turns 30 in November, which isn't good for a player who relies so heavily on athleticism over technique.
Lately, there have also been whispers of a deteriorating relationship between Dez and the organization. Most importantly, there may be friction between Bryant as the starting quarterback.
Last December, after Dez caused two turnovers in the season-ending loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Dak Prescott made the following comment:
"I think I have to throw him a better ball. Just put it right there on his face mask and don’t give him a chance to drop it, I guess."
If that quote is any indication, things between Prescott and Bryant may not be great. And even if there is no locker room rift, their lack of chemistry on the field has been evident for two years.
Whatever the case or the cause, they definitely aren't each other's problem anymore.
Perhaps in anticipation of moving on from Bryant, Dallas signed free agent Allen Hurns to a contract paying him about $6 million per year. He will have the same base salary as Terrance Williams in 2018.
Given what we already know about Williams, Hurns seems like the best bet to emerge as the top receiver now.
In 2015, Allen had a 1,000-yard season to go along with 10 touchdowns. He was the second receiver, though, with Allen Robinson putting up even bigger numbers.
Terrance Williams isn't Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns probably isn't either. The Cowboys may be going into 2018 with two secondary receivers at the top of the depth chart.
While the Cowboys have a solid depth chart at receiver, none of their current talent is going to be able to take over as the primary target on offense.
Thankfully, the NFL Draft is just two weeks away.
Dallas could easily be targeting a WR in the first round now, and probably should be. Not only could a top talent be useful this year, but Cole Beasley's contract is about to expire and Terrance Williams could be released next offseason.
The discussion of what's next at the receiver position is sure to rage on for a while. The glamour positions always get more attention.
What we know now is that one of the most glamorous players in Cowboys history is gone. No matter what happens on the field, Dez Bryant won't be easily replaced as a highlight-maker or in the hearts of Cowboys fans.
Even if you feel that moving on from Dez was the right move, it's still a sad day. Bryant never got a chance to enjoy championship success with the Cowboys and was certainly talented enough to do so.
His best chance in 2014 was taken away by one of the biggest blown calls in NFL history. The biggest play of his career will be remembered for what it stole from the team, and from Dez himself.
If only we could turn back time. If that catch in Green Bay would have been called correctly, the Cowboys were poised to go on to bigger and better things. Dez Bryant, like Tony Romo, was good enough to win it all. Unfortunately, circumstances never allowed for it to happen.
While the team hasn't enjoyed the Super Bowl success that it did in the 70s or 90s, Bryant has been one of the most entertaining players in recent memory, and one of the top receivers in the league for most of his career.
The Cowboys expected a lot when they gave Dez Bryant that #88 jersey, and he's done a fine job of carrying on the legacy of Pearson and Irvin.
But now we say goodbye, and look ahead to a Dallas without Dez.
Time will tell if it was the right move.
Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline
This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".
The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu
Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.
Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.
A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.
In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.
With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.
Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.
For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension
Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately, for his public intoxication arrest last May.
Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.
Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.
However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.
In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.
Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.
The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.
Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.
Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.
But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.
Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.
Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.
For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.
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