The Dallas Cowboys released Dez Bryant on Friday the 13th. It’s still weird.
While we’re all dealing with the shock regarding Dez, we now have to move on, and to move on we also have to look back at why and how this happened.
The why as far as Bryant’s release isn’t the hardest thing to understand. Dez hasn’t been the same player, we all agree there. Some think he still has something left in the tank, but you can understand that maybe the Cowboys are willing to move on (they obviously are).
The how as far as the release is actually difficult to understand. We know that the Cowboys showed a lot of interest in receivers this offseason. They tried to land Sammy Watkins to replace Dez (the writing was on the wall then), they signed Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns, and they also checked in on Jeremy Maclin.
A key detail to understanding the how here, or really the lack thereof, is that according to ESPN’s Todd Archer... Dez Bryant was not offered a pay cut. He was simply released.
The Cowboys have released Dez Bryant after the receiver's meeting with Jerry Jones, according to a source. A source said Bryant was not offered a pay cut, while another source added that Bryant will not be designated a post-June 1 cut. The Cowboys will... https://t.co/WHJrHdguPh— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) April 13, 2018
This immediately begs the question, if the Cowboys weren’t wanting to reduce Dez’s salary (this would be a legitimate reason to wait this long), why did they wait so long to cut him?
Since Dallas didn't even offer a pay cut, it was an unnecessary delay. Release should have happened as soon as Allen Hurns signed. https://t.co/e24ZZRS13W— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) April 13, 2018
Joel Corry (who does a lot of great work, specifically relative to the cap) is absolutely correct here. As noted, the Cowboys wanted Sammy Watkins to replace Dez Bryant. Maybe they didn’t view Allen Hurns the same way, but they obviously (since he’s now been released) weren’t totally planning on having Dez around. What was the holdup for?
There’s only one answer to this question that makes any sort of logical sense, and it isn’t necessarily a good one. The ever-eloquent Bob Sturm pointed out that it could have been Jerry Jones.
I just spent 10 minutes having this exact conversation. It really makes no sense unless they needed 2 months to wear down Jerry. https://t.co/bmiDmPllRj— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) April 13, 2018
It’s no secret that Jerry Jones has an affinity for Dez Bryant, so it’s understandable that he would not exactly jump at the idea of releasing him back in say February; however, this would then be an example of his affinity for players serving as a detriment to the club and actually to Dez Bryant himself.
By releasing him on April 13th, inside two weeks to the draft mind you, the Cowboys are hindering Dez Bryant’s ability in the open market, because there isn’t one. The big-time wide receivers have found homes, and other NFL teams are theoretically planning on landing the top players in the draft. It’s an awkward time to get a player like Dez Bryant.
It’s very difficult to understand why Dallas waited this long, and the best conceivable answer is because their brain trust wasn’t on the same page. This would be concerning if true, considering we’re so deep into the offseason process and close to the NFL draft.