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Dez Bryant: Is Cowboys Loyalty in WR Running Out at Perfectly Wrong Time?

Sean Martin

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Dez Bryant: Is Cowboys Loyalty in WR Running Out at Perfectly Wrong Time? 1

There is a reason I've been quiet about arguably the top story for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, which is Dez Bryant's future with the team. Foremost, there has been very little news to actually drive this story that Bryant will either be on the team in 2018 or not. At the end of the day, this is another player under contract for the Cowboys - making talks of his departure from Dallas purely speculation.

Almost all of this changed yesterday though, with a report that Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones will finally get his much-anticipated meeting with his team's star wide receiver on Friday.

This offseason arrived abruptly for the Cowboys, who missed out on the playoffs in 2017 while watching Bryant struggle once again with second-year Quarterback Dak Prescott. Since the end of the season for Dallas, two things (that now pertain to this Dez Bryant situation) have been perfectly clear.

1. Despite pressure to shake up the coaching staff even further, the Dallas Cowboys retained Head Coach Jason Garrett, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, and Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli

The extent of which the Cowboys turned over their coaching staff as a response to a disappointing nine wins may be bad news for fans, but should be viewed as good news for Dez Bryant.

From top to bottom, the Cowboys have become known (for better or worse) as a loyal franchise to its players and coaches. Since being drafted in 2010, perhaps no player has felt this loyalty from America's Team more than Dez Bryant.

If we believe that the team is imposing some sort of fabricated "deadline" to deal with Dez Bryant this offseason, a player they can happily carry into next season if they choose, a decision following Jerry's meeting with Dez will be made by a similar brain trust to that of the last seven years.

This may seem obvious, but it is immensely important to keep in mind. Under Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan, the Cowboys failed on offense this season. Entirely.

Fixing the offense for the Cowboys certainly seems achievable in a short period of time, which is likely all Garrett and Linehan have to turn this team around. Are both coaches, along with the rest of a staff they could collectively drag down, prepared to fight for their coaching lives without a competitor like Dez Bryant on the field in 2018?

The logical answer here would be a simple "no".

Sorting through a potential roster move that would instantly change the direction of the Cowboys is not easy though, and requires a further look at what the Cowboys plan could be to compete without Bryant next season.

2. The Cowboys have shown a lot of interest in acquiring wide receivers since the start of the offseason.

At the first opportunity to improve their roster, the Cowboys began free agency by showing interest in WR Sammy Watkins. When Watkins signed a three-year deal in Kansas City worth almost $26.5 million guaranteed, the Cowboys regressed to their usual FA approach.

This is to say that Stephen Jones and the Cowboys stepped away from the market of top-tier free agents, waiting patiently again to fill out the roster with less expensive talent. The team was able to add two new wide receivers through free agency though, signing both Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns.

The team has also not stopped showing interest in available WRs, as they're focused has shifted to the 2018 NFL Draft. With a deep group of pass catchers available, the Cowboys have visited with nearly all of the top receiver prospects -  including Oklahoma State's James Washington as late as this week.

The only safe takeaway from the Cowboys doing their due diligence at a position of need (as the roster stands here on April 12th still, with Dez Bryant on the field) is that they will be looking to continue adding young receiving talent in hopes of restoring confidence to their young quarterback and becoming more potent on offense in 2018.

Dez Bryant: Is Cowboys Loyalty in WR Running Out at Perfectly Wrong Time?

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, Owner/GM Jerry Jones

This may be an unattractive headline, but it is the calculated one when it comes to dissecting how the Cowboys feel about Dez Bryant in this moment - which brings us to the reported details of what Jerry Jones and Bryant will actually sit down to discuss tomorrow.

Mike Leslie on Twitter

There are indeed discussions at The Star about a meeting between owner Jerry Jones and WR Dez Bryant on Friday, per a source. Whether that conversation is a "pay cut" conversation or a "you're cut" conversation? Source said "have no clue". #Cowboys

All of the work the Dallas Cowboys have done in evaluating both free agent and draft eligible wide receivers has been handled without Jerry Jones truly "getting his hands dirty". It still makes sense that Jones, who remains as important a decision maker in Dallas as any, will meet with Dez Bryant to either discuss an emotional farewell from the Cowboys or a pay cut to remain with the team.

If the latter option is truly being offered to Bryant, a declining player with two year's worth of struggles under a QB the Cowboys are not planning on moving on from anytime soon, this entire offseason's worth of work has been about creating negotiating leverage against Dez. The Cowboys may not like the idea of entering the draft with an even larger need at WR, but they can certainly show Dez Bryant that they're prepared to address his position in a big way.

For a team whose salary cap is primarily managed by Stephen Jones though, this could be a case of Jerry delivering Stephen's message to Bryant. One can only imagine the twisted game of high-stakes telephone that could be played between the Jones' should Jerry still be loyal to Dez Bryant.

There is no reason to sit here today and think that Jerry Jones is not a supporter of Bryant, nor that he is alone in wanting the 29-year old WR on the team next season. There may be even more reason to believe that these Cowboys executives will be outweighed, not just by the "anonymous staffer" that called for Bryant's departure recently, but by an equally powerful contingency of players, coaches, or front office members.

Hence the need for Dez Bryant to sit down with Jerry Jones. It doesn't get any higher than the Hall of Fame owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has not been put in the position to potentially cut an All-Pro player without the proven help of his son Stephen as well as Will McClay.

Whatever the Cowboys do with Bryant, we may never know who the final decision maker was, or if the team was able to reach any consensus on it - which I believe will truly be the more important Cowboys story to come of this.

Friday will not be your average start to a weekend in late April for Cowboys Nation.

Tell us what you think about "Dez Bryant: Is Cowboys Loyalty in WR Running Out at Perfectly Wrong Time?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments
  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Yes it is at the wrong time I would say Dez is more loyal than the Cowboys at this time and before it all started. Thanks

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Good article I agree with you Sean Martin. Thanks

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Report: Austin Heading to IR: Deonte Thompson is the Next Man Up

John Williams

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Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson Making Preseason Debut Vs. Cardinals

Tavon Austin's stint with the Dallas Cowboys has been up and down through six games. He's provided some big play ability on the outside, but hasn't really had the running room on jet sweeps that the Dallas Cowboys would have hoped for when they acquired Austin from the Los Angeles Rams during the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now it's being reported by Brandon George from the Dallas Morning News that Austin may be headed to injured reserve for a groin tear suffered in the Dallas Cowboys week six win over the Jaguars.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said WR Tavon Austin will be getting a second opinion on his injured right groin in the next day or so. He didn't discount possibility of him being placed on injured reserve.

 

Whether Austin goes to injured reserve or not remains to be seen, but we do know that he'll miss week seven and likely won't be able to suit up for a while. Though Austin hasn't been relied upon much, he has been a threat that opposing defenses have had to account for in both the passing and running game. Tavon Austin leaves a bit of a hole.

Enter Deonte Thompson.

Deonte Thompson, who was signed by the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason, hasn't been the same type of rushing threat that Austin has been in his NFL career. Thompson's only carried the ball two times in his career for -5 yards. However, Thompson has some skills that could bode well should the Dallas Cowboys decide to use him in the jet sweep role that Austin is vacating.

He's been a return threat in his NFL career, averaging 24.8 yards per return. He's had returns of 47, 64, and 74 yards. He's also had some good moments running after the catch in his career, though he hasn't gotten many opportunities.

Thompson's a former track athlete and before the 2012 NFL Draft ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. He has the speed and a bit more size than Austin to make some things happen if given the opportunities.

The jet sweep has become an important staple in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even when they don't hand it off on the sweep, they use it in play action, to set up screens, and even to get the defense thinking about it on direct hand offs to Ezekiel Elliott. They aren't going to want to scrap that part of the playbook just because Austin will be sitting out. Deonte Thompson can be that guy. Much like Marquise Goodwin in San Francisco, Thompson has elite speed.

He's not just football fast. He's fast-fast.

When I was in high school, I played baseball. In the baseball program I was fast. The fastest on the team. That was my game. Infield singles. Stretching doubles to triples. Stealing bases. I was fast. I went out for track my senior season because I thought, "hey I'm fast, let's see what would happen if I ran the 100-meter-dash." I found out really quickly that there is a difference between baseball fast and track fast.

The same applies to football and track. Deonte Thompson is track fast. He's a guy that the Dallas Cowboys need to get the ball to on those jet sweeps to continue to threaten defenses sideline to sideline. When it's working, as we've seen with Lucky Whitehead in the past and Tavon Austin this year, it opens up a lot for the Dallas Cowboys offense.

It's likely that Cole Beasley gets those first jet sweep attempts, and as a trusted veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably should. But, if Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan want to continue to use the jet sweep to the offense's maximum benefit, they need to start showing it with Deonte Thompson. He has the speed to get to the corner and take it to the end zone from any where on the field.

Here's an example of what Thompson can do with the ball in his hands.

NFL on Twitter

109 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!!! Deonte Thompson returns the missed field goal and runs it all the way back for a @ChicagoBears TD! #CHIvsAZ https://t.co/k9IfkZMoIY

 

With Tavon Austin set to be out -- possibly for the season -- it's time to see what Deonte Thompson can do. The Dallas Cowboys need to get a win here to get above .500 for the first time this season and set themselves up to make a run at the divisional crown. Deonte Thompson's ability with the ball in his hands will give them a good opportunity to do just that.



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Michael Gallup Showing Signs of a Breakout

John Williams

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Cowboys Roster: Dallas Made Right Decisions on Unproven Skill Players

We're only six games into the career of Rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup who was selected 81st overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. It's been a slow start to his career, mostly because of usage. On Sunday, he took a step toward what many thought he could be for the Cowboys when he was drafted; Wide receiver one.

The numbers, one reception on two targets for 27 yards, may not indicate a breakout is coming, but if you look at the two targets he saw and the quality of the corner he faced, they're more impressive.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Look at this catch by #Cowboys rookie WR Michael Gallup https://t.co/lD1xJ2WemD

On the Dallas Cowboys first drive of the day, Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott looked Michael Gallup's way down the left sideline and hit him on a nice back shoulder fade that looked an awful lot like a Dez Bryant-like contested catch. It was a key play on 3rd-and-9 to get the Dallas Cowboys into Jacksonville territory on a drive that led to a Brett Maher field goal and a 3-0 lead.

Later in the game with the Cowboys driving to score a touchdown, Gallup made a tremendous catch when he got perfect depth behind All-Pro Corner Back A.J. Bouye and in front of the safety help. It looked to be an impressive touchdown catch just inside the end zone, but was overturned on replay. On review, Gallup wasn't able to get his second foot down after he made contact with the defender. Though the touchdown didn't stand, it was an impressive effort for Michael Gallup.

Jordan Schultz on Twitter

Michael Gallup with a near circus catch to ALMOST haul in his first NFL TD. Ruled incomplete. #cowboys #jags @CSUFootball https://t.co/SePSc3n1Yp

Michael Gallup led the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group in snaps (81% of the offensive snaps) on Sunday, and according to Mike Clay from ESPN, he led the Dallas Cowboys in routes run as well. Both of Gallup's targets came against Bouye, showing an ability to beat one of the best corners in the NFL.

Mike Clay on Twitter

Michael Gallup paced the Cowboys in pass routes (25) for the first time in his career on Sunday.

As Michael Gallup sees more opportunities to play, his opportunities to make plays are going to continue to grow. With news coming down that Tavon Austin is unlikely to play for several weeks because of a groin injury, more snaps are opening up at the wide receiver position. Tavon played 18 snaps before getting injured on Sunday, so there will be increased opportunities for Gallup moving forward.

Gallup's only seen about 3 targets a game, but with the increased snaps he saw in week six and the potential for even more with Austin coming, the opportunities should grow. As he continues to come down with impressive catches like he did on Sunday (even if only one of them counted), it's going to increase Dak Prescott's and the coaching staff's level of trust in the rookie.

It's safe to say that more big time catches are coming for Michael Gallup and a breakout is coming sooner than later.



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Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

John Williams

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Oakland Raiders' Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block

Aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys haven't received much production from their wide receiver group outside of the occasional big play from fellow wide outs Michael Gallup or Tavon Austin. Well, the Oakland Raiders apparently are willing to listen to offers for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and, according to Michael Rapaport, are asking for a first round draft pick in return.

Allan Bell on Twitter

Raiders want a first round pick for Amari Cooper, per @RapSheet.

 

The Dallas Cowboys could use someone with Cooper's ability, even if he has been a drop machine through his first four seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL, 2015 and 2016, Cooper averaged 77 receptions on 131 targets, for 1,111.5 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cooper averaged 11 drops a season, including 18 in his rookie season.

Any time you start a discussion about whether you should trade for someone, the question always begins with "what are you paying?" What would you be willing to pay for Amari Cooper? After back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, he only went for 680 yards in 14 games (48.6 yards per game). Though the yardage wasn't great last year, he did catch seven touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders.

So far in 2018, Cooper is averaging 46.7 yards per game on 3.67 receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown.

I wouldn't send a top 60 pick for Amari Cooper. He's a good player, but is he better than what Michael Gallup could be? Because if you trade for Cooper he's going to likely eat into Gallup's snap count and we need to find out if Michal Gallup is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could rely on in the future. But, if the Cowboys coaching staff brought Cooper in to replace Allen Hurns, then I'd be very happy to talk about acquiring the former first round draft choice.

A starting wide receiver group of Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup would be a very difficult group to cover and Quarterback Dak Prescott showed on Sunday that he has what it takes to get the ball down field to his receivers.

The Cowboys probably wouldn't make this trade, unless Jerry Jones got involved, because they value their draft picks too much, but if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a third round pick I'd do it in a heart beat. For a second round pick, I'd have to get a fifth or sixth back from Oakland in that deal. Cooper's a good player, but hasn't shown to be one of the best at his position.

There are a couple other players from Oakland that I'm more interested in trading for.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

What do you think? Would you trade for Amari Cooper, and if so, what would you be willing to give?

 



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