So, it actually happened.
Jerry Jones has essentially given up on Dez Bryant.
The Dez Bryant era is over in Dallas and the polarising Wide Receiver will have to find a new home.
In this article, we will breakdown the fallout, why it happened and what next for both Dez and Dallas.
The thing that is surprising to me is how quick the whole thing was from start to finish.
The meeting itself took only 20 minutes or so and Dez was told, in a room of him plus Jerry and a few other members of staff that the Cowboys wish to go in a new direction.
In an interview seemingly fairly quick afterwards with NFL, he set out his intentions and also had a few parting shots on Twitter (as is standard these days).
Bryant amongst other claims, has said that he would love to stay in the NFC East and reportedly said “I’ll see you twice next year” implying that he may already have a deal lined up (that would actually shock me for multiple reasons).
So let’s start from the beginning…
Dez said multiple times last year that he was not willing to make a pay cut, which is probably the main reason why this decision has been reached.
Maybe (finally), Dallas are stepping out from the traditional WR1/WR2/etc setup as it has been proven by multiple teams (more recently the Eagles and Rams in 2018) that you just need players to fit a scheme and each player has their role in it. I think that this is going to be a trend that continues over the next few years and to an extreme point, we may no longer see the monster WR coming out of the draft ( a la Julio Jones, Mike Evans, etc), as is exampled by this years WR draft class and the lack of WR quality since 2014.
I have no issue with Dallas releasing Dez (I am a massive cowboys and Dez fan) and Dallas maybe trying transitioning in to this approach. I do however, have a problem with the lack of backup and depth at the WR position. I would put my bottom dollar on the Cowboys going WR in this years 1st round (may now actually be worth trading back to get a few more picks to spend on 2 or 3 WR) to help the very thin WR core they now have. I would even go as far to say that i cannot see past Calvin Ridley should he still be there at 19th overall.
Another problem i have is also the apparent lack of skills the Cowboys coaching staff has is also worrisome for Cowboys fans going forward. There is little imagination in play calling, the playbook is very selective and now all teams will do now is stack the box for Zeke and make Prescott throw the ball to players that tend to be unable to break any coverage. I hope that the Cowboys have got plans in place following this news because if not, and it all goes sour with the draft and have a poor season, the heat will be even hotter than it ever has been for Jerry Jones. Even if it does, Jason Garrett is out of the door at the end of this season as Jerry will never make himself accountable.
The Cowboys have a history of being short sighted and I fear that this decision was purely a cap space one.
The Cowboys save $8.5m in cap space with this move and it will be interesting to see where Dez ends up and the market that is available to him.
It would be not surprising that Dez takes a bit of a pay cut to stay in the division to rub in in Dallas’ noses. However , in the NFC, I can only see the Redskins as a possible destination;
The Eagles are set in their ways and Bryant would not be a fit there, nor would Bryant get what he wanted in terms of target share and volume and appreciation. Also, the Eagles simply don’t have the cap space. Has this move come a few months ago, I could see the Eagles taking Dez (pre Mike Wallace signing for example).
The Giants are not in a win now window and have enough troubles in the team and organisation to worry about. IF and its a big IF, the Giants move on from Odell, Dez, could be a viable alternative. I don’t think that the Giants move on from Odell so there is not much point in hypothesising any more down that road. Dez would be a good fit in New York, has the media, would have somewhat of the spotlight, but I think Dez should be looking at teams that need a final piece to make a run at a championship, which is what his talents deserve.
After a little think, there are 2 teams for me that will suit Dez Bryant.
The first and main one, is the Houston Texans.
Dez has always been in Texas. Born in Texas, went to Oklahoma State University, so moving down the road to Texas would not mean any relocation problems. The Texans have the 6th most cap space at the time of writing with $19m or so therefore money should not be an issue if the Texans want to take a look at Dez for a year or two. It can be argued that the Texans are 1 or 2 pieces from being a contender in a poor AFC, with the WR core being one of them. It’s DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and that’s pretty much it. DeAndre Hopkins paired with Dez would be a fairly enviable pairing and DeAndre has even reached out to Dez, posting a picture of Dez in a Houston jersey on Instagram. There are a lot of boxes that are ticked when assessing potential move to Houston and is where my money is on his destination (they also play twice this season, one in pre-season, maybe Dez got cryptic!).
The 2nd destination I have for Dez is San Francisco.
Jimmy G would work well with a target man like Dez to throw to. The WR options in the Bay Area are ok, but not great. They have Pierre Garcon coming back from injury, but is getting on, Marqise Goodwin, the deep threat and Trent Taylor, the 2nd year slot guy who should improve a lot this year along with TE George Kittle. I see the 49ers as a good fit for Dez, in a division where defences are not great this year (except the Rams) and they have a genuine shot at a good run in January. Weather is not too shabby either (Dez doesn’t particularly perform well in cold climates) and again, cap space is not an issue for the 49ers. Some are surprised (including myself) that they didn’t make a run at the top end of the WR free agency (Allen Robinson would have been a great fit). but maybe they were waiting to see what else would become available further down the line. Oh yeah and the 49ers first game in preseason? Dallas. How poetic.
Other teams I have seen being mentioned are the Patriots. Not for me.
Patriots don’t tend to pay players big money at WR or RB so it would surprise me to see him end up with the SuperBowl runners up, but then again, remember Randy Moss? Dez would be a decent fit with Brandin Cooks leaving the Patriots and there is a year or 2 left on the Patriots window of opportunity before they crash back down to the rest of the field.
I did have thoughts that Green Bay would be a good move for Dez, but they have just paid Davantae Adams all the money so I am not sure how much money they would be willing to give Dez, despite him being a good fit there. Also the weather would not suit Dez.
As mentioned earlier regarding Dez’s wish to stay in the division, Washington is the only team i can entertain as potential suitors for Bryant and can be seen as a best of the rest type team for Dez. However, they have just signed Paul Richardson to a big long term deal, and they also have Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder in the slot so it’s a bit crowded in Washington. The Redskins signing Dez would surely signal the end for one of their current WR as they would have to surely move one of them on to accommodate Dez Bryant. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but surely unlikely.
Finally, Baltimore come up as a potential fit for Dez due to their lack of depth at the WR position.
So what are these teams going to be getting with Dez Bryant?
They are going to be getting a 29 year old who isn’t the fastest and was blamed for a lot of poor production last year (most of which should actually be given to Dak, who was awful last year). Many say he should move to the slot, similar to Larry Fitzgerald to stay relevant and get more years out of his career. Dez Bryant also has a limited route running capability. As per Matt Harmon, the creator of “Reception Perception”, which looks at WR success, regardless of quarterback, on their routes and their coverage. The numbers are not good for Dez, as shown below.
So after all of the bashing I have just done there, what are the positives?
You are getting a guy who is a good endzone target, someone who can overpower CBs and go up and get the ball. More importantly, he is a very dependable 4th qtr guy and is not afraid to step up and be counted. It will be interesting to see who gets the last laugh when this is all said and done.
Dez also now has a monkey on his back. He is determined to prove the Dallas coaching staff and the “Garrett Guys” wrong. Players are always a lot more dangerous when they have something to prove (which is why you get most players playing their best in contract seasons) and now, no one has more to prove than Dez right now. He would be perfect for a team that needs a quick plug in (but a fairly expensive one lets not forget) for a year or 2. I think wherever Dez lands, he will be in the top 24 for fantasy football scoring. The touchdowns will be there, if the Yards (or yards after the catch) are not.
As you can see below, the production has fallen the last few years, but that is not to say there is one big season left in Dez Bryant.
So where do Dallas go now? Like I said, I REALLY hope they have a plan to back this up, but wouldn’t surprise me if they haven’t sat down and thought this one through. I am sure that they go for Calvin Ridley in the draft and I would be dumbfounded if they didn’t go WR with the first round pick at #19. WIth what they have at the moment, the underwhelming WR2 WIlliams will likely be stepping up, with newly signed free agent Allen Hurns taking more of a prominent role too. Cole Beasley will continue to underperform from the slot and there will be a sprinkling in of Jason Witten, Deonte Thompson and 2nd year options Ryan Switzer and Geoff Swaim.
All signs point to Dallas just giving Zeke LeVeon Bell type work to be honest and Dak will rush a lot also. They will revert to their old trusted, control the ball and the clock to help the defence stay fresh. Whilst that worked 3 or 4 years ago, the key to staying competitive in the NFL is to keep teams guessing. Now if I can predict what they are going to do (and I am far from any NFL analyst or coach here), then the Cowboys are in trouble and will struggle to get to a record above .500 this season.
I just want to say as a cowboys fan, my thanks to Dez for all his time in Dallas and his efforts. Wish you all the best in the future.
That brings an end to the article. Hope you enjoyed it. Please give us a share on Twitter and Instagram and join our #raceto500giveaway where we will be giving away a prize when we get to 500 followers. Don’t forget to check out Lee Wakefield’s 2nd Mock Draft.
Lee will be adding another Mock to his collection in the next week and hopefully we can get together and do a podcast on the draft itself. Looking at prop bets, team needs and ideal landing spots for the rookies in this year’s draft.