Could the Dallas Cowboys release fan-favorite receiver Cole Beasley in the next few months? As crazy is that may sound to some, there are legitimate reasons that it might happen.
The notion of Dallas releasing Beasley would have been unthinkable this time last year. He was the team’s leading receiver in 2016 and seemed to be Dak Prescott’s favorite target in clutch moments.
But 2017 saw a major decline in Cole’s production. He went from 75 catches in 2016 to just 36 last year, and 833 yards to just 314. He was fourth on the team in receptions, trailing third-place Terrance Williams by 17 catches.
That alone isn’t reason to cut Beasley. Much of the decline had to do with increased focus to get the ball to Dez Bryant and other options, plus defenses focusing more on Cole than they did the year before. He still has plenty of value.
The threats to Cole Beasley’s job security are twofold; his own contract and the presence of Ryan Switzer.
Beasley will count $4.25 million against Dallas’ salary cap in 2018, the final year of his contract. That isn’t a bad number for a solid rotation player, but the Cowboys could get back $3.25 of that if he’s released.
That’s $3.25 million that can go to adding talent at other positions, or perhaps to keeping DeMarcus Lawrence around. Dallas has several needs this offseason, and they need cap space to address them.
The thought of losing Cole is made easier because of Switzer, last year’s fourth-round pick who has been labeled as a Beasley clone from the moment he was drafted. Having already taken over as the return specialist on special teams, Ryan will be looking for a bigger offensive role in his second season.
If the Cowboys are confident in what Ryan Switzer could do with more opportunities, they will have a hard time turning down the cap relief from cutting Cole Beasley.
One factor that could help Beasley is the uncertainty around Dez Bryant.
If the Cowboys do actually wind up releasing Bryant, which has been a hot topic as of late, they would be far less likely to lose another veteran from the receiving corps. Brice Butler is already likely to depart as a free agent, so that would leave the WR depth chart awfully thin.
But even in this scenario there is still concern with Cole. He turns 29 in April and was taken out of games last season. If Dallas did lose Bryant, they may need Beasley’s money to work on acquiring a new franchise receiver.
Obviously, this isn’t a fun topic. Cole Beasley has been one of our favorite players for a while now. He’s one of many veterans we’d love to see be a part of the team’s future success.
But the salary cap is cruel, and teams often have to make tough decisions on the road to success. This may be one of those times.