Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys is arguably the hottest topic of the team's 2018 offseason. With the NFL's free agent market set to open in less than two weeks, Dallas must decide soon what they're going to do with their star receiver and then, depending on the decision, hope they can get him on the same page.
You've likely got these numbers memorized by now, but let's just review them again. If Dallas trades or releases Bryant, they get $8.5 million in relief from his scheduled $16.5 salary cap hit for 2018. That's immediate savings that they can use when free agency opens on March 14th.
If Dallas makes Dez a June-1st release, they get $12.5 million in cap space now and push an extra $4 million of dead money into 2019. They can't use that cap space to sign free agents now, but that money could easily go to new contracts for Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Recent comments from Jerry Jones indicate that the team isn't going to part with Bryant lightly.
Jerry Jones said a meeting with Dez Bryant should happen in the "immediate future," regarding the receiver's spot with the team. Jones would not get into the contract details, but said, "As I sit here, do we want him on the team next year? The answer... https://t.co/1VOT2IvMW1
The answer was "yes," which is no surprise coming from one of the NFL's most loyal owners. But as Jerry and Stephen Jones have indicated lately, the team isn't thrilled with the disparity between's Bryant's current performance and what he's costing the team.
For Dez Bryant to remain a Cowboy, it's pretty clear that some form of pay reduction will have to be negotiated. As of a month ago, Dez was pretty defiant about taking any sort of pay cut.
That attitude, however justified, just might get him cut.
A $16.5 million cap hit for a receiver puts Bryant in the top three for 2018, trailing just Antonio Brown ($17.7M) and Larry Fitzgerald ($16.9M). That means it's higher than the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, and Julio Jones.
Only the most Kool-Aid drunk Cowboys fans would argue that Dez is still on the level of the elite receivers in football. While he can still make a highlight play here and there, Bryant does not have the physical tools he once did or has produced at that level in three seasons.
After going 9-7 in 2017 and missing the high expectations from their previous season, the Cowboys cannot allow loyalty to drag them down. They need resources to improve and right now Bryant is taking up more of those resources than his play justifies.
Hopefully, Jerry Jones can sit down with Dez and they can figure out something that works for everyone. We'd all love to see Bryant be a part of whatever success the Cowboys could have in the near future, but his contract as is stands will get in the way of that.
Unfortunately, Bryant has plenty of leverage here. If he hits the open market there are plenty of teams that would pay him a decent salary. He might even be able to get about what the Cowboys would accept if a pay cut was negotiated.
One thing Dallas does have going for it is that Dez loves being a Cowboy. There's no denying that, and perhaps that could ultimately serve their interests if Bryant is given an ultimatum.
But with March 14th looming closer, "The Dezision" is upon both parties. Dallas would likely want something done so that they can use cap space during the early part of free agency.
One way or another, Dez Bryant's future should be decided soon.
WAS 20, DAL 17: Cowboys Make 1 Too Many Mistakes
Late in the fourth quarter the Cowboys faced a critical third down, trailing by just 3 points. As they did all night long, the Washington Redskins brought pressure, but quarterback Dak Prescott stood in the pocket this time and delivered a strike to Cole Beasley for a huge first down.
Cowboys fans rejoiced thinking the team might be on their way to a game winning drive. Then, we all noticed the yellow flag on the ground.
Holding, offense number 52.
The very next play Dak Prescott took what was one of the worst sack fumbles you'll ever see in his own end zone, and the Redskins extended their lead to 10 points. As Prescott tends to do, the Cowboys battled back late and got themselves in a position to send the game to overtime if Brett Maher could nail a 47 yard field goal.
Snap infraction. Rather than Maher attempting a more make-able 47 yard field goal, he was backed up to 52 yards, where he would miss the game-tying field goal. All of this resulted in an absolutely heartbreaking loss for the now 3-4 Dallas Cowboys, 20-17.
For a Cowboys team that had a chance to take over first place in the NFC East with a win, today's performance is extremely disheartening.
- DeMarcus Lawrence hasn't been getting the pass rush we hoped to see, but he continued to be an absolute menace against the run today. He ended the game with 7 tackles, 3 of them for loss.
- Dak Prescott's inconsistencies as a quarterback, the inability of any non-Cole Beasley wide out to beat man coverage, and the regression of the offensive line continued to handcuff the offense today. Their play simply wasn't good enough for most of the game.
- Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie put together another impressive game, and this defensive back group (mostly the cornerbacks) seems to improve week to week.
- Sean Lee looked healthy today, and made a key third down stop in the fourth quarter, knocking Alex Smith out of bounds and giving the offense a final chance to win or tie.
- Ezekiel Elliott and this run game failed the Cowboys today. Elliott had just 34 yards rushing on 15 attempts and the offensive line was dominated all night.
- The Cowboys have their bye this week before hosting the 3-4 Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
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.
How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dallas Cowboys' defense is still dominant without Sean Lee on the field. For many years, Lee's injuries have shown us the worst of this defense but finally that's not the case. Thanks to Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys should feel just fine without #50 wearing pads on gameday.
As the Cowboys get ready to play the Washington Redskins on the road in their quest for a winning record, Sean Lee is expected to return to the field. He was a full participant on practice on both Thursday and Friday and should make his way back to the field today.
But how much will he play?
Usually, we would be talking about this defense being desperate for his help. He's been rushed back to the field on many occasions simply because the team's linebackers weren't doing enough without him. This year though, the narrative is different.
Even before he got injured in week 3 playing against the Seattle Seahawks, Lee had been struggling. Now granted, he wasn't looking bad, but we were watching him miss a few tackles here and there which simply isn't something you'd expect from a player such as himself.
The rookie out of Boise State has made a really good job justifying why the front office decided to invest a first round pick on him. So far, Leighton Vander Esch has accounted for 49 tackles, 40 of which have been solo. The kid can play, period. He's done nothing but get better and better by the week and the snaps he's gotten replacing Lee have helped him a ton.
With the veteran returning, what's in store for this linebacker rotation?
Honestly, with the bye week so close, I think this will depend a lot on how this game starts off. If it comes to a point in which the Cowboys are comfortably leading and have no concerns of losing the match, why not rest Lee as much as possible?
It's clear that the defense is far from desperate for having #50 back on the field and it's also clear that Lee is a player who could get injured at any given time.
Thanks to Smith's and Vander Esch's play, the Cowboys can afford to limit Lee's snaps versus the Redskins today. Rest him as much as possible and throw him on just a few plays out there. Lee has suffered injuries on both hamstrings, which is another reason to take it slow with his return.
If they're able to limit him today and then take advantage of the upcoming bye week it could pay Lee big dividends down the road. Dallas needs to realize they're in a very comfortable position regarding Sean Lee. They have the option to take things slow.
Not only that but once he's healthy, he doesn't have to be on the field every single snap. It might be hard getting used to watching Lee slowly become a "situational" player because he's so good to be only played on specific situations but that might be the way to make his availability improve.
It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation starting today as Lee is slated to play football against an NFC East rival.
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