Dez Bryant’s run in Dallas has come to an end. The Cowboys released the veteran receiver on Friday after he met with owner Jerry Jones. The move comes after several months of speculation that the team will try to move on from Bryant’s hefty contract.
How we got here
After a dominant run as one of the league’s premier wide receivers, Bryant has struggled recently to produce at a high level. This was due in part to nagging injuries. Bryant missed a total of 10 games between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Last season, Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. This pales in comparison to his numbers in the beginning of his career, when he averaged over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2012-2014.
The move is likely cap-space motivated as well. Bryant was slated to make $16.5 million in 2018, which is one of the highest salaries at his position. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most cap-space hungry teams in the NFL as they only have about $20 million to work with this offseason. Cutting Bryant frees up an additional $8 million, allowing the team to lock up some of their marquee players, like defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
Talks about a potential Bryant release heated up after the Cowboys signed free agent Allen Hurns. Hurns is another big-bodied receiving threat that will likely be Dak Prescott’s new No. 1 target. Bryant will likely not be a free agent for long and should be scooped up by a receiver-needy team quickly. Some obvious fits include the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, who both have massive holes at the position.
Elite talents like Bryant rarely hit the open market, so there will be a plethora of options for him going forward. After Jarvis Landry’s massive five-year, $75 million deal, Bryant’s new contract will be a story to watch.
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