Once coaching changes ran their course, the notion of Dez Bryant returning to the Dallas Cowboys has been one of the hottest topics of the offseason. But from at least this fan’s perspective, any reunion with our former franchise receiver would be more trouble than Dez is currently worth.
To be clear, and I really mean this, I love and respect everything that Bryant did for the Cowboys during his time here. He was a legitimate number-one WR when healthy and also played through a lot of injuries. He was one of many players that deserved to win a Super Bowl but was let down by other issues on the team.
However, my memory must be longer or stronger than some portion of our fanbase. I seem to recall a lot of other aspects of Dez Bryant that others either are conveniently forgetting.
I remember the sideline shouting matches with teammates and coaches.
I remember lawsuits over unpaid debts and property damage.
I remember his arrest in 2012 on domestic violence charges involving his mother.
I remember about a month ago when Dez said he felt “no sympathy” for Jason Garrett being let go as head coach. The same coach who had a hand in drafting Bryant and standing by him through all of the above.
I remember his lack of grace when the team released him in April of 2018. I remember him calling Sean Lee a “snake” on the way out the door, accusing teammates of orchestrating his release.
But more than anything, and most importantly to this discussion, I remember that Dez Bryant wasn’t that good for the last 2-3 years of his Cowboys career.
Many Cowboys fans, including Dez, seem unwilling to admit how ineffective he was in 2016 and 2017. He could still make the occasional highlight play but the days of being a 1,000-yard receiver or having double-digit touchdowns were long gone.
Some have tried to pin it on a lack of chemistry with Dak Prescott, which there’s some truth to. But Dak hasn’t had any trouble getting numbers out of other receivers. Comparatively, third-receiver Randall Cobb’s stats in 2019 were very close to Bryant’s in 2017.
And remember that in 2017 defenses were double-teaming Cole Beasley instead of Dez Bryant. Please remember that.
The cold, hard truth on Dez is that he got by on raw athletic ability for his first 4-5 seasons. Once he started slowing down, Bryant did not have the technical skills to make up for being unable to outrun or overpower his defenders.
Now I know that Dez has been reportedly hard to get his body right for a return to the NFL. But unless he found a DeLoreon, some plutonium, and 1.21 gigawatts then I don’t see how you can expect Bryant to be anything more at ages 31-32 than he was three years ago.
For the last two years we’ve seen Dez do little more than cater to sycophantic social media followers with various remarks either criticizing the Cowboys or stating his desire to return. Most recently, he’s thrown out the idea that he’s willing to return and not be the “focal point” of an offense.
Easy to say. But do we believe that?
The Cowboys already have a franchise WR in Amari Cooper, an emerging second threat in Michael Gallup, and a productive slot receiver in Randall Cobb. Barring any surprises this offseason, all are expected to return in 2020.
Is there truly room for Dez Bryant at that point? It’d be in the same realm as having Tim Tebow or Colin Kaepernick as your backup quarterback, and we see how NFL teams have handled that one. They don’t want the media attention without the on-field value.
Even if Bryant was a model citizen, he’d still be getting the camera and microphones in his face constantly. Media would be hoping for the slightest negative or critical remark that they could run with. They will create controversy on anything Dez gives them, no matter how unwittingly.
And rest assured that Bryant would give them something. He’s not very witting at times.
But really, why should we think that Dez could handle that kind of minor role on offense? When has he ever shown himself, even as of a couple years ago when released by Dallas, to be professionally minded?
Even if Cooper or Cobb don’t return in 2020, is a reunion with Dez Bryant really the right option?
Remember, Dez remained a free agent from April of 2018 until the second week of November. The other 31 teams in the NFL didn’t want him until the Saints decided to take a gamble with the season halfway over.
The Cowboys moved on when they did for salary cap reasons but also other issues. And those others issues were enough that the rest of the NFL had no interest in Bryant as a free agent for almost seven months.
That should tell you way more about Dez’s value than any tweet or video from a workout.
He seems to have fully recovered form his Achilles tear but is turning 32 years old in November, after already physically breaking down in his late 20s. Nobody expected Bryant to have a long NFL career; his physical style was destined for early wear and tear.
But along with that, Bryant is still chirping on Twitter about former coaches. He still craves attention and doesn’t mind if it comes at someone else’s expense.
The sum of these parts is a player who is unlikely to help you much on the field and could be a major liability off of it.
Maybe a fresh start and opportunity with a different team would work out better, but there is simply too much baggage in Dallas for Dez Bryant to have a successful return here. He’d be another Jason Witten; an aged relic whose past accomplishments aren’t going to win us Super Bowls now.
The past can keep Dez Bryant. Plenty of us have already moved on and the Dallas Cowboys need to stick to their decision in 2018.
He’s not worth the trouble anymore.