The Cowboys are always interesting thanks to Jerry Jones. This offseason, they will be one of the more intriguing teams to follow.
Dallas took a step back to 9-7 in 2017 after Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the league by storm two seasons ago as rookies.
Cowboys’ management could go any number of directions to get this team back in the playoffs in 2018. One tough decision they will have to make regards the future of wide receiver Dez Bryant. There is only one conclusion to come to for a few reasons. Bryant and the Cowboys franchise would be better off apart in 2018.
Bryant is not clicking with Prescott
The wide receiver position different from most positions in the NFL. While there are exceptions like DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald, the success or failure of receivers is generally dependent on the quality of the quarterback and the receiver’s chemistry with that quarterback.
Tom Brady turned Brandon LaFell into a receiver that caught 74 balls in 2014. He has been in the league since 2010 and never got close to that kind of production before Brady and has not since.
At the other end of the spectrum, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both have multiple seasons with at least 70 catches. Both were non-factors with Denver in quarterback purgatory last year.
In Bryant’s case, he averaged just over 90 catches a year in 2013 and 2014 with Tony Romo at quarterback before injuries derailed Bryant in 2015.
In the last two years with Prescott at the helm and the offense centered around Elliott’s ground game and a dominant offensive line, Bryant’s production has slipped almost back to where it was in his first two seasons as a pro. Throw in his well-documented occasional sideline antics and it is clear Dallas simply does not need him anymore.
The numbers do not add up
Bryant caught just 69 passes last year and only 50 in 2016. Again, this is a dramatic drop-off from the Romo era. Worse yet, last year, he posted a career low of just over 12.1 yards per catch.
Now consider that Bryant is due a base salary of just over $12 million for the 2018 season. Unless he has some high-ranking allies in the Cowboys organization, his recent lack of production means he has two options: take a pay cut or get cut. He laughed off the idea of taking a pay cut late last year.
From the Cowboys’ perspective, there appears to be much better uses for some of the money that is earmarked for Bryant. The Dallas defense is fairly pedestrian apart from Sean Lee, who struggles to stay healthy, and pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who is looking to get paid in a big way after a breakout season last year.
If Lawrence does not get what he is looking for, he could be franchise tagged or headed for free agency. The Cowboys obviously do not want either of those scenarios to happen. Moving on from Bryant would free up a little more money for a long-term deal with Lawrence, strengthening the defense as a whole via free agency, or even finding another receiver that better fits Dallas and its run-based offensive scheme.
Bryant’s future outside of Dallas
Despite a reputation as a bit of a problem child, Bryant is just 29 years old. He is still young enough to be a very productive player in the right situation.
He is not an elite receiver at the moment. However, he could really help a team with an established quarterback looking for an additional pass catcher to go with a current top-flight receiver.
This is pure speculation, but Bryant is just the sort of player Cincinnati has been looking for to help A.J. Green ever since Marvin Jones Jr. left. Bryant could also be lethal as a compliment to DeAndre Hopkins in Houston.
Only Bryant knows if his pride will allow him to take on a role like that, but that is his best shot at becoming a factor again. In Dallas, Bryant is sort of wasting away right now. Both he and the Cowboys can do better. If he ends up staying put, both sides are holding on to what was and not what is.
Featured image by nflmocks.com
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