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.
Report: Center Travis Frederick Undergoing Shoulder Evaluation
After missing the team's walkthrough this morning, it is being reported that Dallas Cowboys starting center Travis Frederick is having his shoulder evaluated due to multiple stingers. According to reports, Frederick has been dealing with stingers all training camp, and the Cowboys are unsure what is wrong with his shoulder.
Frederick rarely misses any practice time at all, and has not missed a start since he entered the league in 2013. He's the catalyst of this offensive line, and will be greatly missed if his injury is severe enough to make him miss regular season game time.
Jason Garrett says Travis Frederick is getting his shoulder looked at in Los Angeles. He's been dealing with stingers. No update behind that #cowboyswire
Joe Looney has been tasked with replacing Frederick for the time being, taking first team center reps during today's walk through and practice.
Given how meaningless Saturday's game is, I'd expect Looney to start at center against the Bengals this weekend as well. Hopefully the evaluation reveals that Frederick's issues are not serious and he will be ready for game one, but consistent stingers will always make fans fear for the worst.
Cowboys G Marcus Martin Needs Surgery; Impact on 53-Man Roster
Marcus Martin, the veteran guard Dallas signed as a free agent last March, suffered a potential season-ending injury in the team's preseason opener last Thursday night. Just how long he'll be out is still be determined, but it still should impact the Cowboys' final 53-man roster this season.
Martin tore ligaments in his right big toe against the 49ers. However, as of yesterday, it was not decided if he would pursue surgery.
The Cowboys don't expect backup OG Marcus Martin to play this season after he tore ligaments in his big toe in the preseason opener, but he's seeking a 2nd opinion before deciding whether to have surgery. Martin signed a 1-year deal with Dallas as a free agent this offseason.
A former third-round pick in 2014, the 24-year-old was brought in as a potential reserve at both guard at center. He was still in competition with Joe Looney and others for a roster spot, though, and his minimal one-year contract suggested nothing was guaranteed.
Even if Martin doesn't have surgery, he is almost sure to miss the start of the season. Dallas would likely place him on injured reserve, but still have the option to recall him after Week 8.
Marcus' absence all but guarantees that Looney will return in 2018. This will be his third year in the system and his ability to play center is critical.
In my 53-man roster projection last week, I had both Looney and Martin making the team. So if I had that right, that means a spot has opened up for probably fifth-year veteran Kadeem Edwards, who was playing with the second unit in the preseason opener.
The notorious Chaz Green, who has played guard at times, could also be the beneficiary of the open roster spot.
Damien Mama, an undrafted free agent in 2017 who Dallas added this offseason, is the only other guard currently on the roster. We should get to see more of him as the preseason continues.
Marcus Martin's availability, or lack thereof, and how it ultimately impacts the roster will be determined in the coming weeks.
LB Jaylon Smith 100% Healthy Entering 2018 Season
If you need any more reason to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys upcoming 2018 season, then look no further than their 2016 second-round draft pick, Jaylon Smith. His comeback story from the devastating knee injury he sustained in his last collegiate game at Notre Dame has been well-documented, but recent news suggests his journey has finally come full circle.
Once considered a top-five pick, Smith saw his draft stock plummet due to concerns he may never be able to step foot on the field ever again. Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were willing to gamble he would be able to make a full recovery and once again become the player he was with the Fighting Irish.
The long and grueling rehab process couldn't have been easy to endure. Jaylon Smith was forced to pretty much redshirt his rookie season and played on a pitch count Year 2 while he continued to rehab, waiting for nerve regeneration that may never fully heal.
Luckily for him, he joined a team with a really good support system both on and off the field. A support system that just so happened to include his brother, Running Back Rod Smith. It's that support system that could have made a huge difference in his approach to rehab. An approach that may have finally paid off.
All reports indicate Jaylon Smith is 100% healthy once again, or as close to it as possible. Rod Smith, his brother, said Jaylon is back to being as good as he was at Notre Dame. Jaylon however said he is even better than he was. But, they are not the only ones weighing in on Smith's health.
Scouting Director Will McClay went on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio Monday morning and declared LB Jaylon 100 percent healthy from the injury he suffered in college that kept him out his rookie season in 2016 and had him on a pitch count in 2017.
Will McClay isn't the only one that has noticed a difference in Jaylon Smith. Head Coach Jason Garrett has said Smith has grown leaps and bounds from last year and are treating him like a player with no limitations.
"Again, he worked hard in his rehab. Coming into this off-season he was able to take that brace off. I think that's freed him up a little bit," Garrett said.
"And he just looks much more natural. So again, you'll have to ask him that very question, but from our point of view, he looks like he's moving around really well, changing direction really well, making a lot of plays. I think he's gaining more confidence with each day. We really don't have a plan for him right now. He's full-go and ready to practice every day with no limitation."
All of these accounts certainly make it sound like Jaylon Smith's arrow is trending upwards and that he is as healthy as he has been since joining the Dallas Cowboys.
Luckily, we don't have long to see him in action. I don't know about you, but Thursday night when the Cowboys take on the San Francisco 49ers in the Week 1 of the NFL Preseason can't get here soon enough.
Are you excited to see a 100% healthy Jaylon Smith this season?
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