Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Apr 2018

Dallas Cowboys Release Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys have released veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant.

Bryant, 29, was due $12.5 million in 2018. He did not have a 100-yard game in 2017, and has not had a thousand-yard season since 2014. The only question about this move is why Dallas waited so long to make it happen. In a similar situation, the Seahawks released Richard Sherman before free agency began, and Sherman signed with San Francisco days later. Now, Bryant finds himself unemployed with no obvious team needing a wide receiver, while the Cowboys find themselves needing a new wideout after the field has been stripped bare.

Bryant has said that he is taking this personally, and that he would like to sign with the Giants, Eagles, or Washington for a chance to play Dallas twice a year. Time will tell if he'll get the opportunity.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 13 Apr 2018

14 comments, Last at 25 Apr 2018, 11:48am by Will Allen


by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:39pm

How has Snyder not offered him a contract already? His plan to "show that greedy Cousuns which team is best once and for all" is proceeding nicely, as they all do

by billprudden :: Sat, 04/14/2018 - 8:56am

I'd be curious to know if he is ready / willing to move inside and wrestle with LBs and 3rd safeties like Larry Fitzgerald did. Dez could be a heck of a Jarvis Landry clone, if both he and the right team saw it that way.

by Theo :: Sat, 04/14/2018 - 1:52pm

He didnt have a roster bonus at the start of the league year.

WR needy teams... the Browns (still) come to mind.

by justanothersteve :: Sat, 04/14/2018 - 4:02pm

Right now the top teams with cap space are Cleveland, Indy, Chicago, Tennessee, and San Fran, all of which have at least $27M available. Houston is just under $20M. All need WRs. He could stay in Texas and team with Hopkins and Fuller to give Houston one heck of a WR corps for Watson. He'd pair nicely in Indy with Hilton, though god knows when they'll get Luck back. He'd also be a deadly #3 in Minnesota which has enough cap room even with the Cousins signing for a relatively cheap two-year deal (say $14M over two years with $9M guaranteed).

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 04/17/2018 - 1:20pm

As a Bears fan, I'm not interested. They already have a #1 and I'm not sure Bryant is even that good anymore. Plus after the Brandon Marshall experience I'm not excited about difficult personalities on the bad end of their careers.

by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 04/16/2018 - 5:16pm
by theslothook :: Wed, 04/18/2018 - 3:40am

Man do I look foolish in the comment section.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 04/18/2018 - 9:02am

Well, you had company with Ben. The thing is, I don't think either of your generalized sentiments were wrong, but your talent evaluation was, which means you are qualified to be a lower tier NFL GM. I don't spend nearly enough time looking at video to have an intelligent opinion, but I never looked at Bryant as the kind of wr who could, year in, year out, consistently dominate games. For one thing, he has never been really great at catching the ball. He's had notable moments with regard to that attribute, good AND bad. I've never thought of Bryant as the sort of great receiver who make a mediocre qb look upper tier.

by theslothook :: Wed, 04/18/2018 - 4:57pm

I made a few mistakes. Firstly, I overrated Bryant as an elite wide receiver, putting him not quite in the julio antonio brown category but in the next tier with OBJ and AJ Green. He was never that good or that consistent.

Other mistake i made - Tyron Smith as a player lasts much longer and produces far longer at a high level than an elite receiver does. Looking over most receiver careers - their peaks are remarkably short - spanning at most 4 seasons before you see a noticeable tail off. From there, they either make a transition to smart route runner and hands guy a la Jerry Rice, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Smith. The guys who rely on explosiveness but questionable hands and route running rarely survive.

That said - I think Bryant's precipitous fall is really hard to understand. He went from great production to steady nothingness quite rapidly and I don't quite know how that happened. Its not like Dak is a bad player or anything and AJ Green and OBJ have certainly kept up their numbers despite uneven qb play.

by MC2 :: Wed, 04/18/2018 - 8:16pm

I can't remember who, but someone on TV said, and I agree, that Bryant never was great at getting a lot of separation, and relied on winning contested catches on passes thrown into tight windows. That worked a lot better with a very accurate passer like Romo. Dak has his strengths, but pinpoint accuracy isn't among them.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 04/18/2018 - 9:24pm

I think if Romo gets pried away from Parcells somehow by Sean Payton, when Payton went from the Cowboys to the Saints, Romo is a lock 1st ballot HOFer. In other words, I think Bryant, if he had been drafted by, say, Miami, or some team on that level of quarterbacking and coaching, would have had a unremarkable career. Romo is underrated due to anti-Cowboys/Jerry Jones sentiment.

by MC2 :: Thu, 04/19/2018 - 6:38am

Another thing that worked against Romo was having to play in the shadows of Aikman and Staubach. Those were some big shoes to fill.

by The Ninjalectual :: Wed, 04/25/2018 - 3:19am

Are you sure it's just sentiment? JJ did plenty of concrete things limiting Romo's career too

by Will Allen :: Wed, 04/25/2018 - 11:48am

Certainly didn't mean to imply that the sentiment was not firmly grounded in observable reality. I'm very convinced that Jones reduced a HoF QB career to one that will be seen as merely pretty good.