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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.


I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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8 Comments
  • Chuck Wright

    Even with Dez, they were most likely taking a WR high, even at 19. The unintended consequences of cutting Dez are the game plan and QB can worry about sustaining drives not “getting the ball to 88 so he doesn’t pitch a fit on the sideline”. . . . .

    If Dallas didn’t cut him this year, they would cut him next. Your cap room for 2019 looks even better today

    But back to my (stop me if you have heard this broken record) idea of trading back and acquiring another 2nd. Take Will H (who da boys seem to covet) or LVE in the 1st, take WR with the 1st 2nd and LB/OG (Braden Smith or James Daniel/Josey Jewell Darious Leonard) with the 2nd 2nd

    Love Thompson’s speed and Hurns’ route running.

    • John Williams

      What changes to me is that WR becomes almost a certainty at 19 or in a small trade back.

      I’m actually for a trade back, because they have several needs that this draft can address.

  • Kevin Black

    Don’t be surprised with Dallas waiting until the second round, perhaps using a 4th to move up in the round, instead of using their 1st round pick. WRs can be found anywhere in the first two days and historically, especially lately, 2nd and 3rd round WRs have been outperforming 1st rounders. If someone like Harvey or Davenport are available, they could be looking at them or a LB like Vander Esch or Evans from Alabama. Still, you can find LBs later in the draft as well. It’s pretty well known that if you want a pass rusher, you take them in the 1st. They just aren’t found very often elsewhere, even less than QBs and are less likely to fail. Davenport has the upside and Harvey showed the production as a junior, although his injury last year does make you a bit nervous.

    Think of this: Dallas gets Harvey in the first and Cortland Sutton in the second (after a trade to move up). That would be two major pieces right away.

    Second option: Trade down, pick up a 2nd or third, get someone like Hernandez (the guard from UTEP) and then get Sutton and still have another pick to get a LB and a safety.

    I like Ridley and Moore, but the haul from the first two scenarios sounds better and their will be no guards or pass rushers at 50 available.

    • John Williams

      I’m not as high on Sutton as many others. He sounds like a taller Dez starter kit. I’d rather have a guy with proven route running and separation skills that doesn’t rely on YOLO balls and athleticism. I want a guy like Antonio Brown or Stefon Diggs who just get open all the time.

      • Kevin Black

        I agree. I’m not that high on Sutton either. I wouldn’t mind a 2nd round pick on him, but he’s gonna be a work in progress. I see Noah Brown as pretty much the same player, so I don’t think you need to go that route. However, if they decided to draft St. Brown, I’d be on board with that. He’s got some great feet and is already a pretty good route runner. The QB at Notre Dame last year was abysmal and hurt St. Brown’s draft status.

        • John Williams

          If the waited til the 3rd to get a WR, St. Brown would be a good option or DaeShawn Hamilton.

          • Kevin Black

            I’d love to get St. Brown. HIs QB did him no favors last year at Notre Dame. I believe he will perform way above where he’s drafted. However, I don’t think he’ll make it to us at 81. DaeShawn Hamilton I believe will be there and I wouldn’t mind seeing him wear the start. I don’t think he’s a true X like St. Brown could be, but he’d still be a good one.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I think both DJ and Calvin could be there @19 to fill the hole of Dez being cut. I just don’t think they feel that the need for a WR, like Dez, is a priority to the Cowboys. To me, Courtland looks like Dez, or at least close to Dez. I would like us to wait on WR. Go Anthony Miller @ 50 our even later in the draft with someone else.
    I’ve said it before, LB & G are bigger priorities/needs and are also most likely to be there @19. I also believe that moving back to 25 through 28 and acquiring another pick is a stronger move. You slide in the 1st to move up in the second and that puts you in position to address the LB & G positions.

Dallas Cowboys

REPORT: Cowboys DL David Irving’s Accuser Retracts Claims Of Domestic Violence

Kevin Brady

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David Irving

After what was a rather crazy day which resulted in reports the Frisco Police Department were investigating Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving for domestic violence, the accuser has now retracted her claims.

https://twitter.com/DCBlueStar/status/988527577915674624

This retraction comes after the mentioned reports of domestic violence claims against David Irving earlier in the day. Irving was neither arrested nor charged for the incidents, though two separate allegations were made.

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

Irving has claimed through his own social media account that his accuser is an ex-girlfriend looking for retaliation over a breakup. Irving has already said he has changed the locks on his house in attempt to change behavior moving forward.

Whether or not Irving abused his reported ex-girlfriend is not for me to say, but it will be interesting to see how Roger Goodell handles the matter after she retracted her claims later in the day. As we know very well, the NFL can claim violation of the personal conduct policy even if the justice system pursues no charges.

And the results of both the Frisco PD's investigation and that of the league office will be intriguing over the coming weeks and months.


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Player News

REPORT: Cowboys DE/DT David Irving Suspected of Domestic Violence

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

[4/24/18 UPDATE: Irving's accuser has since recanted with police. However, the NFL could still investigate under their domestic violence policy.]

ORIGINAL STORY

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving is under investigation by Frisco, TX police for charges of domestic violence, according to a report by Jobin Panicker of WFAA-ABC in Dallas.

The following was tweeted from Panicker's account not long ago:

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms it is investigating serious allegations against Cowboys player David Irving. No arrests. Assault-Bodily Injury, Unlawful Restraint, & Assault-Impeding Breath and Circulation @wfaa

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

The veracity of the accusations are certainly not ours to judge, but other recent events on Irving's social suggest he is in the middle of a breakup with his girlfriend. Posts early this morning on his Twitter account appeared to be from an unauthorized user, and David later posted on both Twitter and Instagram that someone had hacked him.

Furthermore, Irving shared that he was already taking steps due to the volatile situation.

David Ja Rodd Irving on Twitter

@DCBlueStar Changed the locks yesterday

While personal lives should stay that way, Cowboys fans are understandably concerned after what happened last year with Ezekiel Elliott. As we saw then, Roger Goodell's "justice" system allows for just an accusation to lead to a suspension. There is no burden of proof on the accuser.

And as in that case, even if the police dismiss the allegation, the NFL can still pursue the matter under the personal conduct and domestic violence policies.

It would be nice to just say "let the process play out," but the NFL commissioner doesn't hold himself to that standard. Therefore, we have to report this as it could mean consequences for David Irving and the Dallas Cowboys no matter how legitimate the claims are.


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Player News

Jaylon Smith Practicing Without AFO Brace

John Williams

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Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner 1

A lot of the talk circling the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL Draft is the need for the Cowboys to draft a linebacker as insurance to Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith's injury issues.

One of the questions, Sean Lee, will always be a question. When he's on the field, he's as good a linebacker as there is in the NFL. In 2016, he finally got in a near full season and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys with an All-Pro season that led the team to the playoffs. Talent has never been the issue with Lee. Keeping him on the field has been.

Jaylon Smith's question isn't his health as much as it is his recovery. The surgery to repair his ACL and MCL that he suffered at the end of his final season at Notre Dame was considered a success. There was a caveat, however, that there was no telling how much functionality would return because of the massive nerve injury that occurred.

Last year, Jaylon Smith actually played football games. No small step. In some games he made some plays and in other games, it was clear that he was still struggling with changing directions and running with receivers and running backs in coverage.

Time is Jaylon's biggest ally and another offseason removed from his injury should only help him get stronger and more confident in his recovering knee.

Lost in all of the Dez Bryant hoopla was a beautiful little nugget that Jaylon Smith teased Cowboys Nation with last week.

Jaylon provided a great look at his training regimen on the first day of team workouts and if you look closely, you'll see with a Clear Eye View that Jaylon Smith isn't wearing a brace, tape, or any other kind of support. On his knee or foot.

Jaylon Smith on Twitter

Focused vision, Determined belief, Earned dreams. #ClearEyeView

Remember that even after Jaylon was playing and practicing without a knee brace, he was still requiring an AFO brace to help with his foot drop.

Oh, how much one offseason can change things.

Mike Fisher, now of 247Sports.com, quoted Smith as saying, "I have more power and more flexibility now. And the dropfoot (issue) is fading. Absolutely!'' over on Scout.com, and there was this:

"As our colleague Bryan Broaddus has previously noted, it does seem that some of the testing is behind him, that the nerve is regenerating, that the repaired knee is stronger than ever and that more improvement is ahead of him. Smith's 6-2, 245-pound body is about as sculpted as is imaginable. His mind is sculpted, too, the result of his faith and his intellect and his personality and more. He suggests now that more improvement is inevitable, and that includes the medical improvement that is now, to him, simply "a matter of timing.'''

Mike Fisher - 105.3 The Fan and 247Sports.com

There is still a lot of hope around The Star and Cowboys Nation that Jaylon Smith can return to the All-American form that was projecting him as a top-five talent in the 2016 NFL Draft. If he's healthy and moving with better lateral movement and agility than he was in 2017, that's a huge step forward for Jaylon Smith and the Dallas Cowboys.

The progression of his knee and his confidence in said knee is going to be a huge determining factor in Dallas' plans to draft a linebacker. If they feel confident that he will be a more functional linebacker in 2018 than he was in 2017, then perhaps they could wait until day two or three to address the linebacker position.

We can't fully know their intentions as we get closer to draft day. How they address the linebacker position in the 2018 NFL Draft could give us an excellent indication of how they feel about Jaylon Smith's progression.

What we do know is that Jaylon Smith will never give up working toward being an elite middle linebacker. Let's hope he can realize his dreams. Everyone will be better for it.


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