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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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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Chuck Wright

    April 17, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    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

      John Williams

      April 19, 2018 at 1:41 am

      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.

  2. Kevin Black

    April 18, 2018 at 9:46 am

    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

      John Williams

      April 19, 2018 at 1:43 am

      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

        April 19, 2018 at 9:36 am

        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

          John Williams

          April 20, 2018 at 6:01 am

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

          • Kevin Black

            April 20, 2018 at 9:17 am

            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.

  3. EverybodyTalks

    April 23, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    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.

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Dallas Cowboys

3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



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Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA

John Williams

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Cowboys Headlines - #DALvsNYG: Dealing With Giants Safety Landon Collins

It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.

Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.

After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...

Paul Schwartz on Twitter

Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.

And Landon Collins had this to say...

https://twitter.com/TheHumble_21/status/1098315997839265792

If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.

The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.

Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.

The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.

Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.

Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.

We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.



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Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams Was OK, But Cowboys Need More From Michael Gallup

Jess Haynie

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Can WR Michael Gallup Eclipse 1,000 Receiving Yards as a Rookie?

Just yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys declined an option on Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' contract and ended his six-year tenure with the team. One reason the veteran was no longer in their plans was the presence of Michael Gallup, who the team has high hopes for entering just his second NFL season.

It's interesting to compare Gallup and Williams on several levels. Just as Terrance's time ends, having only made a few appearance last year in just three games, Michael was a fast learner as a rookie and emerged as the team's number-two receiver by the playoffs.

Both were third-round picks, with Williams (74th) being selected just seven spots higher overall in 2013 than Gallup (81st) was in 2018.

Terrance came to Dallas when Dez Bryant was firmly entrenched as the team's primary receiver. Michael was drafted less than a month after Dez was released, but Amari Cooper soon established himself as the number-one WR midway through the year.

In both cases, the Cowboys hoped that their third-round selection would yield a player who could at least play a complimentary role as a solid roleplayer, if not regular starter.

For all his warts Terrance Williams was ultimately a solid draft pick. He started in about 75% of the games he played in and was a proficient run blocker, helping both DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott have big years. He also made some highlight reel catches in his time.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

But with those big plays came some big blunders. Terrance often had a bad drop for every good catch he made. A huge mental error may have cost Dallas the 2016 season opener against the Giants. And if the team wasn't already starting to turn on him, his 2018 arrest for public intoxication seemed to push them over the edge.

That said, the biggest issue with Williams was his inability to produce without other plays drawing attention. He didn't rise to the occasion when Dez Bryant was injured. He rarely even made defenses pay for giving Dez too much attention.

At his best, Terrance was a solid number-two receiver. Plenty of teams who've spent first-round picks on receivers wish they could they'd gotten as much in return. Nobody should be disappointed with how that 2013 third-round pick turned out.

But when it comes to Michael Gallup, Dallas should hope that Williams' career is the floor for Gallup's potential. As teams key on Amari Cooper going forward, can Gallup do damage in ways that Terrance rarely could?

Even more importantly, if Cooper were to ever get injured, could Michael step up and take on a larger role? Can Dallas finally have a number-two receiver with the capacity for occasionally taking the lead?

#DALvsWAS: Michael Gallup Will Play, Value Extends Beyond Passing Game 1

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

That may be putting too much pressure on young Mr. Gallup but it's really not an unfair expectation. Recent drafts have produced highly productive third-round receivers such as Keenan Allen, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay, and Tyler Lockett.

Even more pressure comes if Cole Beasley leaves the team in free agency. While his role lessened toward the end of 2018, Cole remained one of Dak Prescott's favorite options in clutch situations. He was almost impossible to stop with just one man covering him, and that gave defenses a real dilemma once Amari Cooper arrived.

Can Gallup fill those shoes? Can he become a reliable target when the game is on the line?

In the end, all Michael has to do is be a solid starter to provide a great value for his draft selection. The Williams standard isn't a bad measure.

But if the Cowboys ever want to win more than just the occasional playoff game then they need another receiving threat who truly punishes opposing defenses. They need the next Alvin Harper, not the next Terrance Williams.

We can only hope, as the team does, that Michael Gallup is up to the task.



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