On Friday, the Dallas Cowboys cut their pro-bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant after 8-years with the team. He learned of his fate in a 20-minute meeting with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones where he was told he would be released. There was no offer for him to take a pay cut and he isn’t being designated as a June 1st cut, which would’ve given the team a chance to spread any remaining money out over two seasons. Bryant would’ve made $12.5 million for 2018, but would’ve counted for $16.5 million against the salary cap. The team will now save $8.5 million against the cap because of the move.
Bryant was playing on a 5-year contract signed in 2015 worth $70 million dollars. Since signing the deal, Bryant production has slipped, failing to have a 1,000 yard season in those three years and dealing with foot and knee injuries. Bryant started all 16 games in 2017, making 69 receptions for 838 yards. Bryant put the blame for his release on coaches and players he called “Garrett’s Guys”, a reference to supporters of head coach Jason Garrett. Bryant had said in the past that he would be unwilling to take a pay-cut, but indicated after the firing he would’ve been open to talking about it had one been offered.
With Bryant gone, the Cowboys lack a true #1 receiver. They have Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley. Williams is coming off a season with over 500 yards receiving but also recovering from a foot injury. Beasley had an incredible 2016 season where he caught 75 passes for 833 yards, but then became invisible in 2017 wish his numbers being cut in more than half. They recently signed Allen Hurns from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Deonte Thompson from the Buffalo Bills. Hurns has put up similar numbers to Bryant over the last three years and Thompson is a speed threat the team needed, but neither have been the main receiver for a team. The rest of the receivers on the roster are all going into their second season have have no more than 6 catches in the NFL each.
The Cowboys could look to sign another free agent if someone is cut between now and the beginning of the season, or they could look to the decent crop of young receivers in the draft. Most mock drafts have the team looking at tight end, linebacker or defensive tackle as areas of need, but with Bryant gone, the likely hood of them using a first or second round pick on a receiver has become a strong possibility.
Bryant has stated he would like to stay in the NFL East, meaning the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles or Miami Dolphins, teams who play the Cowboys twice a season. Bryant’s out-spoken nature and off-the-field issues combined with his diminishing on-the field production may work against him with some teams, but there is no doubt that he should be able to find a home quickly.