When the Cowboys cut DeMarcus Ware and didn’t re-sign DeMarco Murray, I was perfectly at peace with the decision. I loved both those players, but money talks and there was just no way the Cowboys could have shelled out so much cap resources to those players if they wanted to preserve their future. When Tony Romo retired last year, that one left a sick feeling in my stomach because he was a player who had carried this franchise on his back for several years and was still playing at a high level. But again, the decision made itself once the emergence of Dak Prescott was recognized. It just had to be done.
But with Dez Bryant, things are much different. The team doesn’t have another player they need that money for, nor do they have another star receiver waiting in the wings. At least not yet.
The Cowboys cut Bryant exactly two weeks prior to the 2018 NFL Draft. Whatever the team’s draft plans are have not changed due to Dez’ release, although it may look that way to us now. The front office is going to draft the best player that they feel stands the greatest chance to help this team and that does not mean pick 19 will be a wide receiver.
But it very well might be.
It was always going to be D.J. Moore
The Cowboys know how they feel about the receivers in this draft class. They have gotten a good look at all the top pass catchers coming out of college. It’s very possible the team likes a variety of receivers at different rounds in the draft where they can address the position without compromising their “best player” approach. It’s also possible that they have their eyes set on a particular player who they feel will be there at one of the spots where they pick.
Let’s say Dez Bryant’s public display of aggravation was a real issue and you might as well throw Orlando Scandrick’s antics in the mix as well. Both of those players have had their share of sideline moments. While we label it as “passion,” it could be a genuine distraction on the field, especially if they are calling out the coaching staff openly in front of other players. Both of those players have now been released.
This type of behavior could draw them even closer to a talented receiver like D.J. Moore as he is the epitome of a great teammate. If the Cowboys love him and believe it’s reasonable to think he’d be available at 19 (and he should be), then they could be already committed to Moore being their guy. Their draft plans haven’t changed, they’ve only been revealed it to us a bit with the release of Bryant.
But the Cowboys could have simply waited until the draft before releasing Dez just in case things didn’t go as planned. Why would they act on this now? Well, it’s possible this move is connected to another move that is coming soon.
Come get me
Bryant wasn’t a cut that was forced upon the front office due to cap space restraints. The team could certainly afford him if they wanted him. Dallas has already paid him $45 million over the last three years, which still carries a dead money hit of $8 million this season to cover the fractions of his signing bonus for 2018 and 2019. What they don’t have to pay him now is his $12.5 million in base salary in each of the next two seasons, saving the team a total of $25 million.
So what are the Cowboys going to do with that $25 million? The team must have a plan and that plan must be more enticing that having Bryant on the roster for the next two seasons. It’s very possible the Cowboys have someone lined up for that money. Is it Earl Thomas? In the blink of an eye, the team can now afford to pay Thomas should they work out a trade with Seattle. In order to bring Thomas aboard, the team would have to feel confident they’d be able to sign him to a high-priced salary that he’d demand in an extension. Without Bryant’s money on the books, they’d be able to take on a contract like that. Both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott’s contract will be up in a couple years, so the team has to be judicious about how they spread out their cap resources.
How would you feel about swapping out an All Pro wide receiver for an All Pro safety and then turn around and use this strong WR draft class to replenish your receiving group? Trying to find a good free safety in this draft is a much more difficult task than finding a receiver.
The Cowboys are up to something; I just don’t know what it is. The team has collectively gotten together and weighed their options as to what they believe would ultimately make them a better team. For now, that means not having Dez on the roster, but something tells me there is another plan in the works.
What do you think is coming next for this front office?