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The Unintended Consequences of Releasing Dez Bryant

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.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

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.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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