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The Unintended Consequences of Releasing Dez Bryant

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys: Ranking Top 5 Most Indispensable Players 3
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

My parents always taught me growing up, and as adult it's been reinforced, that actions have consequences. Some are positive and some are negative and some are unintended or even unforeseen. The release of Dez Bryant has created a ripple effect throughout the Dallas Cowboys organization that has consequences, both positive and negative, intended and unintended. 

I don't want to spend a lot of time rehashing what has been discussed at length about the positive or negative aspects of the Dez release. I want to focus on the unintended consequences of releasing Dez Bryant.

Inside The Star has covered all the angles of Dez Bryant's release, you can catch up below.

✭ Here's what Sean Martin had to say about Dez's departure and who the "Garrett Guys" are.

✭ Junior Writer Mauricio Rodriguez had a nice farewell for Dez Bryant.

✭ Kevin Brady began the debate on whether 88 belongs in the Ring of Honor or not.

With Dez Bryant's release, they've backed themselves into a bit of corner when it comes to the NFL Draft aspect of player acquisition, which is unlike them.

Where they usually go into a draft pretty fairly settled on the roster with free agent signings filling their biggest needs, releasing Dez Bryant has left them vulnerable at wide receiver.

✭ Brian Martin wrote about how Dez's release could affect tackle La'el Collins.

WR Depth Chart Effect

The Dallas Cowboys created another urgent need -- left guard being the other -- on the offensive side of the ball, at wide receiver. Many would argue it was already a serious need on the roster, but given the reaction by most of Cowboys Nation, it's hard to believe all that many people thought WR was a need for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. 

Allen Hurns is your top receiver on the roster. All due respect to Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, but anyone who could have a 1,000-yard-receiving season with Blake Bortles throwing the ball, along with another 1,000-yard-receiver on the other side, has to have some real talent.

He's not the athletic specimen that Dez Bryant is, but he does run routes a bit better and works the middle of the field very well. As NFL teams attempt to get bigger receivers working the slot -- see Michael Thomas in New Orleans, Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona -- Hurns has the size to be able to work the middle of the field.

This is what Bob Sturm of 1310 The Ticket and The Athletic DFW had to say about Allen Hurns and how he might differ from Dez a bit.

"Allen Hurns is very comfortable running out of the slot.  Only 14 players took a higher percentage of their snaps there – Cole Beasley being one of them.  But, as you can see, he is nothing like Dez in this respect.  Many think that Dez should spend more time there, but the more you watch him there, the more you wonder if he has the desire to spend more time with the Linebackers and other big hitters." 

Bob Sturm, 1310 The Ticket and The Athletic DFW

While I like the Hurns signing, I liked it a lot more when he wasn't the top dog on the depth chart.

Last season, teams began to take away Dak Prescott's favorite target in Cole Beasley. With a threat on the outside like Dez Bryant gone, Beasley could be affected even more as teams force Dak and the Dallas Cowboys to try to beat them vertically. Something that has been an inconsistent aspect of their game as a football team.

Terrance Williams and Deonte Thompson can help you, but they haven't been consistent enough in their careers to believe they can take on the targets voided by 88.

Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown are young second-year players who have some nice tools, but they're still inexperienced on the offensive side of things in the NFL. They didn't get enough run as rookies to prove that they could step in and fill the sizable void left by Dez Bryant.

As I mentioned in my recent 53-man roster outlook, Will McClay, the front office, and the coaching staff shouldn't be satisfied with the current group of receivers they have and they probably aren't. That means a top-100 pick will have to be spent on a WR, and it will likely be either 19 or 50.

Calvin Ridley

Alabama WR Calvin Ridley (Butch Dill/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys have been meeting with wide receivers throughout the draft process. Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and most recently DJ Chark, but I've contended that the position didn't need a top-100 addition in 2018.

Then they released Dez Bryant. Wide receiver must now be in consideration at pick #19.

There's no telling who the team likes more, but we know that Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and DJ Moore are on their radar as players to add to the wide receiver depth chart. The problem that arises is, now instead of allocating pick 19 to a guard, linebacker, DT, or EDGE, the team has to seriously consider WR.

They have to come away with a plug-and-play guard in the top-100 picks, and according to most there are only four of those (Quentin Nelson, Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, James Daniels), who all figure to be drafted in the first round.

Need or Best Player

Many among you will argue this shouldn't change anything in regards to the Dallas Cowboys' approach to the draft. This is the part of the story where I remind us all that there's a balance in drafting for need and drafting the best player available. You have to take both things into account.

If Saquon Barkley is on the board at #19 and there are no trade-back options, they shouldn't take Barkley just because he is the best player available. While it would be fun to scheme Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield together, it would be a waste of resources at a position that has been generally losing value over the last decade.

Also, we don't want to see the team reach on a player like Rashaan Evans just because he fits a position where the Dallas Cowboys certainly have a need.

The struggle is, that before the release of Dez Bryant, the team, in my opinion, didn't have a need at WR. They had set themselves up to target other positions with premium picks, but now have left themselves vulnerable.

The strong possibility now exists that they have to go with a guard and wide receiver in two of their first three picks. That's not necessarily a bad thing because it helps make the offense better for 2018 and beyond.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The team made a tough decision on a player who was beloved, which they probably wouldn't have made 10 years ago. The front office has really begun to transition to the next era of Dallas Cowboys football led by Dak Prescott, the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence, and the defensive backfield.

It's a new era in Dallas. Let's hope it gets closer to Lombardi number six than the last era did.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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Dallas Cowboys

What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?

Jess Haynie

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Tyrone Crawford

Some consider June 1st to be a critical date on every year's NFL calendar; it's own new wave of free agency. But will the 2019 Dallas Cowboys add any talent to the pool, and could they be interested in any players who get released by their current teams?

As you likely know already, teams may choose to cut players after June 1st so that they can defer some of the dead money from their contracts to the following season. It allows them to maximize salary cap savings in the current year.

For over a decade now, the NFL has also allowed teams to release up to two players prior to June 1st but still give them that designation. The team doesn't get the cap relief until June, but the player gets a chance to find a new home during the primary free agency period.

There have been almost no early June-1st cuts so far this year by any NFL team. That may lead you to believe that there will be similar inactivity when we actually hit that date on the calendar. But that may not be a very good tell.

Because teams don't enjoy any benefit from the early June-1st designation, except whatever good feeling comes from doing right by a former player, we hardly see it in action. Teams would much rather carry a player until after the draft and see what their need levels truly is before releasing them. It's rendered the early provision almost meaningless.

For the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, the one player whose situation and contract speak to a possible June-1st move is Defensive Lineman Tyrone Crawford.

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford

Crawford's deal runs thru 2020, which is key since you need at least two year's left on the contract to utilize the June-1st deferment. A player with only one year left, like WR Allen Hurns, has the same cap relief regardless of when you cut him.

Releasing Tyrone Crawford either after June 1st or with the early designation would push $1.1 million of his total $4.2 million in dead money to 2020. It would increase the total cap savings from $5.9 million to $7 million for the Cowboys' 2019 salary cap.

Now Crawford is one of those guys, a valued veteran and team captain, who you'd think a team would've cut earlier if that was their intention. But Tyrone's value to the Cowboys has been fluid throughout the offseason.

The value went up when we found out Randy Gregory was suspended again. It remained high while contract negotiations with DeMarcus Lawrence dragged until early April. Crawford's ability to play multiple spots on the line meant he could be back in a starting role at DE in 2019.

But then Dallas re-signed Lawrence, traded for veteran Robert Quinn, signed Kerry Hyder, and drafted Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. Throw in Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong coming back and there are already plenty of players at DE, especially if Gregory manages to get reinstated.

But even if Crawford isn't needed at end, what about defensive tackle?

Trysten Hill

Dallas Cowboys DT Trysten Hill

The Cowboys spent their earliest 2019 draft pick, 58th overall, on DT Trysten Hill. He projects to play the same "3-technique" position that Crawford normally would.

On top of Hill, Dallas is bringing back Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Daniel Ross form last season. They also signed Christian Covington, a fifth-year veteran from the Texans.

Again, the numbers are pretty tight and the positions are full of younger talent. The Cowboys could easily conclude that they have plenty of DL options at this point and would benefit more from salary cap relief than from Tyrone Crawford's continued services.

Plus, we haven't even gotten into the legal issues that could cause Crawford to get suspended for a few game in 2019.

As far as current talent goes, the June-1st conversation really begins and ends with Tyrone Crawford. Other veterans who may not make it to the final roster, such as Hurns, Jeff Heath, or Tavon Austin, only have one year left on their contracts. June 1st changes nothing for them.

There could be a few interesting names that come available when other teams make cuts. Again, they could have made these moves well before now. But NFL franchises are generally going to do what's best for them, and waiting for the dust to settle from the draft allows for more informed decision-making.

One name we've seen tossed around a lot is DT Gerald McCoy from Tampa Bay, who would be an immediate upgrade over any of Dallas' current tackles. But would losing Crawford to add McCoy really be that cost-effective?

The market to really keep an eye on is at running back. The current free agency pool had dwindled down to Jay Ajayi, who is unlikely to accept a minor role behind Ezekiel Elliott, and a bunch of retreads. Perhaps other teams' cuts could yield a few more desirable prospects to help our RB depth.

For 2019 at least, June 1st may not mean very much. And it may mean even less for the Dallas Cowboys, who already could field a competitive team this year without any additional moves. They may be focusing their cap dollars solely on new contracts for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Zeke, and others the rest of this offseason.

Outside of potentially releasing or trading Tyrone Crawford, we may not see any major moves in Dallas until final cuts.



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Dallas Cowboys

Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.

The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.

Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:

"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!

As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.

If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.

But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.

Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.

Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?

I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.

If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?

Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.

If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?



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Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend

Jess Haynie

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Mike Weber

Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.

One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.

Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.

A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.

Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.

If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.

Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.

Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.

This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.

Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.

But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.



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