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.