Dez Bryant’s eight-year career with the Cowboys came to an end on Friday when the team released the wide receiver. Bryant, who hasn’t had a 1,000-yard receiving season since 2014, met Friday with owner and general manager Jerry Jones, three days before the team opens offseason workouts.
Speculation about Bryant has surrounded the Cowboys since the end of the 2017 season, when it was first suggested that the former All-Pro might need to take a pay cut in the coming year. Prior to his release, he was set to make $12.5 million in 2018 and count $16.5 million against salary cap.
That all stems back to the five-year, $70 million contract he signed in the summer of 2015, which he had struggled to live up to in recent seasons.
The Cowboys were obviously willing to part ways with their mercurial star receiver – but they hadn’t been willing to say much about it. Both Jerry and Stephen Jones were asked about the situation last month at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and neither was willing to elaborate much.
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“That’s one of the things that we’re going to have to work through as we move into our future,” said Stephen Jones.
Clearly, the front office came to a consensus about what worked best for them. Releasing Bryant frees up an estimated $8 million in salary cap space, giving them more room to maneuver in free agency.
The Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2010 made three Pro Bowls over eight seasons, including an All-Pro selection in 2014 with a career-best 16 receiving touchdowns.
Along with his impressive statistics, Bryant has been marked by his fiery demeanor and his passion for the game. That fire sparked him to 531 career receptions for 7,459 total yards, plus a franchise-record 73 receiving touchdowns.
The Cowboys will move forward with a younger wide receiver corps. Hurns steps into the top receiver job at just 26 years old, and it seems like a good bet the team might make receiver a priority in next month’s NFL draft.
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