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Cowboys news: It's the end of an era in Dallas without Dez Bryant

More Earl Thomas talk, should the Cowboys trade up or down from their #19 spot in the draft?

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Dez Bryant's release signals new era for Dallas Cowboys - Gregg Rosenthal,
Rosenthal looks at the Dez Bryant release and confirms what many have reported, that Jerry Jones was the final line of defense in support of Dez.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Jerry Jones was essentially the last man defending Bryant's place on the roster, whereas Stephen Jones and possibly coaches were in favor of a change. Bryant retweeted some speculation from a former teammate that Bryant's willingness to call out his coaches publicly was a factor.

This wasn't just about the money. While Bryant's $12.5 million salary became an albatross for the organization, his level of play was the bigger issue. Bryant was not treated like a true No. 1 receiver by opposing defenses last season. He often saw single coverage and he struggled to gain separation in those matchups. His trademark ability to make contested catches was also diminished and there are concerns that his body is breaking down at age 29.

He had multiple foot surgeries in 2015-2016 and has struggled with a recurring back issue. Unlike some veterans such as Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith who had terrific second acts as receivers, Bryant does not have the refined route running skills to naturally segue into the next phase of his career.

Examining Dez Bryant’s present, past and future - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer looks at five questions surrounding Dez Bryant's release, including where he might end up.

Where will Bryant end up in 2018? He has said he would like to play in the NFC East so he can face the Cowboys twice a year. ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweeted Saturday none of the NFC East teams seem interested in Bryant. Maybe that's a function of the impending draft. Maybe it's more than that. Since signing his $70 million extension, Bryant has 12 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in five games against the New York Giants; 20 catches for 304 yards and a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles in five games; and 24 catches for 336 yards and one score against the Washington Redskins.

If he doesn't stay in the NFC East, where does he land? To me, the best fit would be the Green Bay Packers. Why? Aaron Rodgers.

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott discusses Dez Bryant's release - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In addition to getting Dak Prescott's take on the release of Dez Bryant, Hill also looks forward to how the team will utilize the team's new wide-out options.

Free agent signees Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson will be a big part of the team’s plans to replace Bryant, as will a receiver in the draft. The Cowboys are focused on taking one in the first or second round.

“We have thrown. I have thrown with Hurns,” Prescott said when asked about the new receivers. “Deonte is on his way. We have communicated. We will see. We will figure it out. Dez is going to be a hard guy to replace. He is a talented guy. So he will be missed.’

Prescott has been a part of a group of 50 Cowboys who have been working out on their own for the last two months. He is excited about Monday's start of the offseason program as the Cowboys officially begin life without Bryant.

Delving deeper into the Dallas Cowboys’ Dez Bryant decision - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
BTB's own Tom Ryle looks at the Cowboys' front office's thinking regarding Dez, including the possibility that locker-room issues contributed to the decision.

Dez certainly has a different approach to things than some of the other guys that run the Cowboys. But the comments Bryant made about the team captains being part of the movement to get him out of Dallas also are evidence of a problem with how he fit in the culture those leaders were trying to foster in the locker room. (Take the comments on social media about the influence those captains, especially Dak Prescott, had in the decision with a largish grain of salt. They were probably included in some discussions, but to think they really drove the decision seems a bit irrational. That seems not at all how a professional football team works, especially with a young and still developing quarterback.)

There is a lot of controversy about how things did actually happen, but what may be even more controversial is that the pro game may be evolving away from really needing a franchise wide receiver to find success in the NFL.

Can Dez Bryant Be Randy Moss? - Matthew Postins, 247sports
Postins, like many, contemplates where Dez could end up landing and suggest he look at Randy Moss' decision following several subpar seasons in his late 20's.

Dez, you’re nearly 30 yourself. You’re coming off three years of sub-par production, by your standards. For the first time you have the chance to set your own path in this league. You’ve played eight years, made a ton of Jerry’s money and now the only thing left, like Moss more than a decade ago, is to play for a championship (Moss said then that he prioritized getting a ring over money and stats, which is why, in part, he ended up in New England). If Moss’ career is a template, your window has about three years left (his production fell off in 2010 and his career ended in 2012). How bad do you want that ring? And if you do, how bad do you want to wear that ring on your finger the next time you see Jerry?

Maybe the Seahawks trade Earl Thomas to the Cowboys - David Fucillo, Niners Nation
The talk of Earl Thomas coming to Dallas has heated up since the release of Dez Bryant, and SBN sister site Niners Nation weighs in with their thoughts.

The Seattle Seahawks claim to be in a “reloading” situation as opposed to “rebuilding,” but at times it is difficult to tell the difference. It makes sense to reload when you’ve got Russell Wilson at quarterback, but they have made a ton of changes on defense that will require some quick turnaround if this is not going to drag them down.

The next move could be a big one. The Seahawks have been listening to trade offers for Earl Thomas, but nothing has come of it. With less than two weeks remaining until the 2018 NFL Draft, that could change. Dallas Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher thinks Dez Bryant’s release opens the door for the team to make a move for Thomas.

Why the Cowboys should trade up in Round 1, and three prospects they could target - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota makes the case for trading up.

There are three top players in this year's draft that make a lot of sense for Dallas. However, all three will likely be gone by 19.

Florida State safety Derwin James, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith and Ridley.

To be able to get James or Smith, Dallas would likely have to climb inside the top 10. In that scenario, the Cowboys would have to part with their second-round pick, No. 50 overall, and maybe more. The cost could be too high.

There's a chance Ridley could fall to 19. This isn't a great receiver class, but he appears to be the top option. Usually the first receiver comes off the board in the top 10. Over the last seven drafts, at least one receiver was drafted among the first 15 picks.

Or should they trade down?

If Cowboys trade down, what kind of package could they get for the 19th pick? - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota also talked about possibly moving down in the draft recently.

Q: If you're trading down, what kind of trade package are you trying to get out of the 19th pick?

Machota: Probably something similar to what the Cowboys got in 2013 when they moved back from 18 to 31. San Francisco sent Dallas picks 31 and 74 in exchange for No. 18. The Cowboys picked Travis Frederick at 31 and Terrance Williams at 74. So you're looking at a late first- and a third-rounder.

My scenario for this happening is, let's say the Cowboys only have 16 players with first round grades and all are gone by the time they go on the clock at 19. Why not move back in the first round, get a player that you like just about as much as the one you'd get at 19 and then also add an extra third-rounder?

Also, that player that falls to you near the end of the first round might end up being the guy you were going to take at 19 anyway.

5 of the Most "Unlucky" Plays in NFL History - Ralph Warner, documents the five unluckiest plays in NFL history and, unfortunately, the Cowboys show up on the list.

The 2006 season was a breakout Pro Bowl year for Tony Romo, but his play in the Wild Card game was lackluster. Romo completed 17 of 29 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown. Despite his mediocre play, the Cowboys were still in a position to win with just 1:19 left. They were down 21-20 but just needed a 19-yard field goal from Martín Gramática. However, Romo fumbled the snap, scrambled to try and score, but was stopped short by Seahawks SS Jordan Babineaux.

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