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A Case for Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018

Mauricio Rodriguez

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A Case For Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018 1
AP Photo / Ron Jenkins

Now that most of the coaching positions have been filled in Dallas, all of the attention will soon turn to the players. Who will be re-signed? Who will walk? And will the front office surprise us by releasing a big-name player? Mainly, I'm talking about Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant.

Even before the season came to an end, Dez was already a hot topic among Cowboys fans, and rightfully so. After failing to produce for three consecutive seasons, it's only fair for fans to have a discussion about him.

The question is whether or not the front office will discuss it and do something about it as well. Will Dez be wearing the Star on his helmet next season? Or will he be elsewhere?

I decided to write two cases for Dez Bryant. One in favor, one against. You'll be able to read the latter soon on Inside The Star.

A Case in Favor of Dez Bryant

It's very simple to look at Bryant's drops, lack of production and mistakes and think: "Hey, we should let this guy go, and draft a good wide receiver in April." Easier said than done. Even though Dez isn't currently at his best, he's still a very talented football player.

It won't be very easy to find a replacement for someone like Dez. He may not be an elite receiver anymore, but let's suppose they release him. Who're your receivers?

Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys WRs Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Dez Bryant

Terrance Williams, a guy who went without a single touchdown in all of last season?

Cole Beasley, who despite being great in 2016, failed to keep it up a year later?

Brice Butler (if re-signed), who flashed as a good receiver but didn't even start a single game?

Now don't get me wrong, these guys worked in 2016, and they might shine again next year if the offense finds a way to bounce back next season. But I don't know for sure that your offense looks a lot better without Dez Bryant.

Logically, if the Cowboys parted ways with #88, they would bring in someone from outside the building. Maybe a proven receiver, but will Dallas have the cap space to do a move like that? Maybe they lean towards the Draft... but aside from one or two guys, are the other wide receivers from this class really that reliable after the first round?

"You don't find No. 1 receivers hanging off trees like leaves." Michael Irvin on Dez Bryant and his future with the Cowboys.

Don't forget that the entire Dallas Cowboys' offense struggled this season.

During the second half of the 2016 season (after dealing with his injury and after Dak Prescott got some experience as a rookie), Bryant looked pretty good. This even led us to believe Dak would develop an amazing chemistry with him once they got back at it in 2017.

Dak Prescott isn't the kind of quarterback who will throw Bryant open or take risks with him. It's fair to point out that Prescott could be better off trusting Dez on contested balls and giving him opportunities to make plays.

We're losing perspective of what happened this past season. Without Ezekiel Elliott, the offense couldn't walk. Without Tyron Smith, Prescott got destroyed frequently. Almost no one from the Cowboys' offense managed to shine last year.

Michael Irvin may be right. The front office may be paying Dez a bit too much, but at the end of the day, if you release the guy, who'll take his place?

After a struggling season, changing the number one WR on the team may not be the wisest thing to do when you have a young QB like Prescott.

There certainly are a lot of reasons to believe the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to keep Bryant, despite the outside noise. Let's hope that if they decide to stick to their guy, they find a way to reduce his cap hit.

Tell me what you think about "A Case for Dez Bryant Remaining a Dallas Cowboy in 2018" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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12 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    What’s the point of replacing all the position coaches if your going to get rid of the players. You changed position coaches to see if they can bring out something different in the players you already have while adding some FA and through the draft. Cowboys are in dying need of a true #1 to allow Dez to play #2. Dez has all his best games against the Breshaud Breelands of the worlds(no 2s is what im saying) Restructure Dez and look for a true no 1 like Josh Gordan or Allen Robinson

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      If the front office and Dez are able to work something out and PAY Dez like a #2, I’m all in for it. I bet it won’t happen though, which is the deal breaker for me. I see your point, though. If they decided to overhaul the coaching staff, might as well see what comes out of it. Thanks for reading, Travis!

  • Nick Russo

    Mauricio, I have to disagree in regards to keeping Dez. He may be an all time great WR for the boys (evidenced by his franchise leading 73 touchdown receptions), but he’s not what the cowboys need to win now.
    First, Dez is not a great route runner. He had success because of Romo’s ability to throw him open, and his athleticism to snatch the ball out of the air. Dak may get to that point further into his career, but for now he does better getting the ball to an open receiver.
    Furthermore, his attitude on the sideline during games is just too much. We put up with it when he was producing but it’s enough already. It can be argued his outbursts led to our demise in the Seattle game and as a fan I’m tired of seeing him cry so much. All in all he is being paid way too much money to cry and complain, and to not get open and drop the balls that he should catch.
    As I said he’s an all time great cowboy and between 2012-2014 I would always argue with friends that he was the best receiver in the league. Unfortunately those days are gone and we have to move forward.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I actually agree with you. This article is the first part of a two-post series I’m working on. This Sunday you’ll be able to read my article against him staying in Dallas another year. To me, it’s all about cap space. I think he’s talented, but I don’t think he’s justifying his salary on the field. Thanks for reading!

    • RJ

      Are you kidding me. Dez is a number one receiver on any NFL team. We just do not use him right. Running him down field INTO THE DOUBLE TEAM, WHO DOES THAT. The correct way to use him is run him underneath short five and ins, let him catch the ball and break tackles that is what he does. AND ROMO NEVER THREW DEZ OPEN, ROMO THREW THE BALL UP HIGH AND DEZ WENT AND GOT IT…All this crazy talk about trading Dez or letting him go is just that; crazy. Dez has always been and above the rim guy it’s what he does. Yes Romo threw some gems, but Dez went and got those gems, however, it has never been a case of anyone throwing Dez open…

      • Nick Russo

        I have to respectfully disagree. As I mentioned in my initial comment, Dez was in my opinion, the top WR in football between 2012-2014. It might be the injuries, it might be other factors but dez hasn’t been close to that level in the past 3 seasons. Regarding his route running, I don’t think dez is a very good route runner. A majority of his touchdowns have been balls that he’s gone up to get because of his althleticism. The amount of times that he has run a slant route and then dropped it and had it result in an interception is not indicative of a WR1. I’m sorry but Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and the other top receivers around the league figure out ways to get open and make plays even against double teams. Dez isn’t making those plays anymore. The biggest issue is the salary though. It’s not that he’s washed up and can’t play, it’s that for our cap situation, we can’t afford to pay $16 million to a WR on the decline.

        • RJ

          Addressing the money first. Dez is 29 and still the number one receiver in football. His numbers do say it, but if you watch the whole game you know what I am saying. Dez caught 50 balls in 2016, he upped it to 69 in 2017. That is not a decline to me.

          Why do I say he is number 1, you could say Jones and Brown are ahead of Bryant, in stats, but Brown and Jones have VETERAN AND who EACH guy has played multiple seasons with. Plus Brown called Big Ben out multiple times to include last season. Honestly Dez should be used more like Jones, short in routes and allow him to break tackles. Instead Beasley ran the short in routes in 2016 and he had 75 receptions. Dez your number one was left being a FREAKIN DECOY. He did it and for doing as he was asked to do for the steaMER USE THAT AS A REASON TO CUT JOM. Show some freaking LOYALTY WILL YOU.

          Give Dallas the last two season’s back with the veteran Romo and Dez has two thousand yard 100+ catch seasons. A receivers performance is on the qb as much as it is on the receiver.

  • Jason Wagner

    Watching all of the games this year and every year at least once it’s my opinion Dez’s drop off is more because of Dak’s inaccuracy than anything else. Dez needs to get the ball in his hands early and often to be most effective and he’s a force when that happens. When he doesn’t get a chance to produce and help team win he gets over anxious and looses focus…thus the drops on tough catches he normally makes. ALL of the receivers numbers were terrible this season. Prescott needs to throw Dez open and work on ball placement because Dez has never been a burner who creates lots of space. I believe Dez is still in the top 10 receivers but needs a QB more accurate than Dak was last year. Getting Dez the ball early on some quick slants or reverses would heat him up and keep him focused for the tougher 50/50 balls. Lets hope Dak can improve or Dez will have to take a cut or find a better QB to prove his point. Hate to lose a leader like this!

  • Russ_Te

    Cap hit being the main issue probably, not age or injury. Dez has to move to a power-possession role at this stage of his career, and work underneath WR’s who stretch secondaries and get the coverage rotations off of him. Then Linehan has to cash that in & get Dez involved.

    If all that gets done, I think he has some career left in Dallas. Whether Dez will give back $ to stay on the team, unknown. He won’t match his current deal elsewhere if cut – so he might do it. I’m good with it if all these boxes are checked.

    The unit needs a serious infusion of new speed, and that is square 1 IMO. I’m not interested in 4.5, 4.4 WR’s. We need to bring in a 4.3 / 4.2 WR who will force the FS to stay deep. Then I’m holding onto Butler to add to that, and going to Switzer in the slot on the idea of turning some of those routes downfield also.

    I don’t want Dak throwing the ball to covered receivers. I want him to readily see someone open when he sets up. Give him that and 4 seconds, he’ll return to the QB he was in 2016. And with more experience of course.

  • EverybodyTalks

    When you start looking at the money, it becomes evident that Dez needs to take a pay cut. For that matter Beasley may need to do the same along with Williams.
    The whole receiving corp makes up a substantial part of salary cap, 28million, which is only 2nd behind the O line at 47million, which doesn’t include the upcoming Zack contract. You look down the road, there is nearly 9 million to absorb from Romo this year and 2019 is the last year for the Dak rookie contract.
    I could see Dez going. 8 million towards the cap, 3 million for Hanna. 3 million for Mayowa. That almost matches what we have available on the cap. Lawrence will probably eat up most of that. Irving and Hitchens can now be contracted and possibly Zack long term, if the pay is back-ended. That makes for a more stable D line and O line. So both lines kept for letting go of Dez. Hard to turn down, especially if he won’t budge on a pay cut.

  • RJ

    Ball not even close to Dez and the Skins Defender is all inside his jersey…No FLAG. This is the difference in the way defenders can D-up Dez, but our Defenders have to give the opposing team’s receivers THREE FEET…Just isn’t the same, at least not for the Cowboys…People see that…

  • John Williams

    Good analysis of keeping him. I am of the mind that you keep him. You can work out cap space if necessary through cuts, restructures, etc, but you can’t find a WR that helps you replace Dez in 2018 on the FA market for less than $12 million a year.

    Dez won’t likely take a pay cut, which is his right. He and the Cowboys signed a contract and though he has been an elite WR at times in his career, 2015, the first half of 2016 and 2017 have all been let downs. The problem is, Allen Robinson isn’t coming here and he only has a year of production on his name.

    Sammy Watkins isn’t better than Dez, but you are going to have to pay him like he’s as good.

    Then there’s the $8 million in dead money that goes on the cap if you cut Dez. Even a post-June 1st cut only gets you $8 mil in savings with 8.5 in dead money.

    So then the question becomes. Would you rather have a cap hit of 16.5 million and have Dez on your team or 8 million for him to play elsewhere.

    I’d rather have Dez.

Star Blog

Seahawks’ Tight End Will Dissly Flying Under the Radar

John Williams

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Seahawks' Tight End Will Dissly Flying Under the Radar

The Seattle Seahawks are in need of a big win this weekend to stay a game or two back of the NFC West leading Los Angeles Rams. The Dallas Cowboys hope to extend their one game winning streak to two, but to do that, they'll have to win certain matchups on both sides of the football. One player that the Dallas Cowboys will have to be aware of and contain is rookie Tight End Will Dissly.

With Doug Baldwin injured in week one and out week two, other players have had to step up in their lead wide receiver's absence.

Brandon Marshall and Tyler Lockett are the names that most everyone will recognize, but Dissly, is the name that Cowboys Nation should keep an eye on come Sunday.

Dissly, drafted in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of the University of Washington, came into the season with a reputation as a blocking back. Dane Brugler, of The Athletic, had Dissly ranked 98th overall and as the ninth ranked tight end in the draft. Just one spot behind Dallas Cowboys rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz.

Here is what Brugler had to say in his 2018 NFL Draft Guide.

"A one-year starter at Washington, Dissly spent his first two years at Washington on defense and his final two years on offense, lining up inline and wing in the Huskies’ offense. He was a blocker-first and receiver-second in college, which was a role he embraced with his hard-nosed toughness and competitive edge. Dissly uses his upper body power and base strength in unison to control the point of attack, displaying the core flexibility and length to keep defenders busy. While he flashed reliable hand/eye coordination and run power after the catch, he lacks the route-running experience or athletic deception to consistently uncover. Overall, Dissly is a project as a pass-catcher, but he will contribute early in his NFL career as an inline blocker and sixth offensive lineman."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2018 NFL Draft Guide

To say that it comes as a surprise at Dissly's start to his rookie campaign would be a huge understatement. A Brugler notes, there was a chance he'd contribute early as a blocking specialist, but was thought to be a project in the passing game. He's been a big play threat in the first two games of the season, already taking the lead in Seattle Seahawks TE snap distribution at 65%.

Among tight ends, Dissly's is tied for 12th in the NFL in targets with 10, tied for 17th in receptions with six, fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, tied for first with 2 touchdown receptions, third in yards per reception at 24.5, third in yards after the catch with 90, is tied for fifth with five receptions for first downs, sixth in yards per route run, and hasn't dropped a pass this season. He's averaging five targets, three receptions, 73.5 yards, and a touchdown per game. He's been targeted twice out of the slot and has two receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown while playing 46% of his snaps from the slot.

When Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson has targeted his rookie tight end, he has a passer rating of 143.8.

He's been way more than they could have hoped.

Here's what SB Nation' Seattle Seahawks blog Field Gulls had to say about Will Dissly after the Seattle Seahawks week one loss to the Denver Broncos.

"Hot damn! Who saw that coming? Was that Will Dissly or a prime Jeremy Shockey? 3 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown for someone drafted primarily for his blocking abilities. Seattle has a new weapon on offense, and I doubt anyone saw that coming."

Mookie Alexander - Field Gulls, SB Nation 

It's likely that nobody, including the Denver Broncos or the Chicago Bears, saw Dissly's breakout coming this soon. Now with it on tape, the Dallas Cowboys will have their eye on Will Dissly.

Russell Wilson doesn't have a ton of established -- or still good -- wide receivers at his disposal, but Will Dissly looks like a fourth round steal for the Seahawks.

The Dallas Cowboys' linebackers will be tested on Sunday.

Four of Dissly's six receptions have come against linebackers, including a 34 yard reception (19 yards after the catch) against Chicago Bears' Linebacker Danny Trevathan and a 66 yard reception (52 YAC) against Denver Broncos Outside Linebacker Bradley Chubb.

The Dallas Cowboys seem fully capable of matching up with good receiving tight ends as Jaylon Smith showed on Sunday. Smith showed an ability to run with Odell Beckham Jr. in coverage on Sunday. No small task. We know that Sean Lee is good in coverage. Leighton Vander Esch's best trait coming out of Boise State is his coverage ability. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the Dallas Cowboys matchup Xavier Woods and Anthony Brown with the athletic tight end when he's lined up in the slot.

How the Dallas Cowboys defense does in coverage against the rookie tight end could be a major key to the game. With names like Brandon Marshall, Tyler Lockett, and Rashad Penny to keep an eye on, someone like Will Dissly could be easily forgotten.

You're going to hear his name called on Sunday. Let's just hope it's more for what he did weeks one and two.



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Star Blog

Xavier Woods Among Cowboys with Something to Prove in Seattle

John Williams

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The Earl Thomas trade rumors have been relentless this offseason. We've heard about them. I've written about them, and for better or worse, they just won't stop. No doubt Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods has heard them as well.

When Woods went down with his hamstring injury and as Earl Thomas continued his hold out, the clamor for Thomas grew louder and louder.

Per reports, it looks like Woods is set to make his 2018 debut. With a good game against the Seattle Seahawks, he can put a silence to the trade rumors.

I've been a proponent of making the deal for Earl Thomas all offseason. From the time he came running down the tunnel toward the Dallas Cowboys locker room, I've been all aboard the Earl Thomas hype train. Opportunities to add All-Pro players don't come along very often and if you're hoping to win football games in the short term, like the Dallas Cowboys are, you make the move.

My opinion isn't a knock on Xavier Woods, who was good as a rookie last year. He was especially good when asked to play in the slot early in the 2017 season. It has more to do with Woods still being a bit of an unknown and Thomas being a known quantity.

Xavier Woods has shown potential to be a really good safety in this league. In college, he played a lot of single high safety and played it very well. He has a knack for making plays on the football and can be a game changer for the Dallas Cowboys.

If the Dallas Cowboys can come away with a victory in Seattle, facing the player that the Dallas Cowboys have been linked to for months, and Woods has a good game in the process, then all of this will go away.

Heading into Sunday, Xavier Woods isn't the only player on the Dallas Cowboys roster who has something to prove.

Two Wide Receivers

The Cowboys added another wide receiver this week when they resigned free agent Brice Butler. I agree with Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie that adding Butler doesn't make a ton of sense, but it definitely adds question marks to the wide receiver room, in particular wide receivers Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns.

These two wide receivers were expected to be the starters on the outside and the primary targets, aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, and yet, they've failed to have much of an impact in either of the two games in the 2018 season.

Take a look at their stat lines.

  • Allen Hurns: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, 0 touchdowns, on 55% of the team's offensive snaps.
  • Terrance Williams: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards, 0 touchdowns on 25% of the snaps.

Those two are tied for fifth in receptions through two weeks of the season. Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson has found himself as a favorite target of Quarterback Dak Prescott through the first two games and has seven receptions for 60 yards.

With now seven wide receivers on the roster, there are less snaps to go around and with the increase in playing time for Tavon Austin and Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams may have already found himself as the odd man out. Brice Butler complicates things further for Williams and may eat into Allen Hurns snap count as well.

Now it looks like Terrance Williams is facing a suspension. If the suspension comes down before Sunday, he's going to really have a hard time finding a role on this team when he comes back.

Brandon George on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/of11Xlb7wD via @sportsdaydfw

If he comes back. 

Defensive End Making a Comeback

Things started out really well for returning Defensive End Randy Gregory. During the preseason he flashed the tools that made him a highly coveted player before his failed drug test at the NFL Combine.

Unfortunately the start of his 2018 season was derailed due to a concussion early in the Carolina Panthers game forcing him to miss week two.

In his place, Taco Charlton emerged as an impact player on the right side of the defensive line. Charlton has played the most defensive snaps of any defensive end through the first two games of the season; DeMarcus Lawrence included. Taco went from a 73% snap share in week one to an 83% snap share in week two. It's obvious that he's earned his snaps and the coaching staff wants to get him on the field.

This doesn't even begin to mention the contributions by rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong, who like Charlton, saw a 10% snap increase from week one to week two and played really well when in the game.

This is a bit of a problem for Randy Gregory. Yes, he flashed in the preseason and early in the Carolina game, but the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and Gregory hasn't done much of anything in the regular season, yet.

Coming into the Seahawks game, Gregory is going to have to earn back some of those snaps. By all accounts he has a chance to be an elite defensive end on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys defense, but he has to prove that he can stay on the field and effective when on it.

He needs to shine in week three.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Who are your players with something to prove heading into the week three matchup with the Seattle Seahawks? Let us know in the comment section. 



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Star Blog

How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys At Seattle Seahawks: 5 Bold Predictions
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.

In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.

In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.

And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.

The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.

Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.

Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.

They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.

Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.

But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.

Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.

Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.

So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.



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