Dez Bryant is officially done in Dallas after eight years with the team. Bryant became an unstoppable force from 2012 to 2014, averaging 91 catches, 1,311 yards and 14 touchdowns during that time. Rumblings about his attitude persisted even then. The perception of Bryant as a problematic wide receiver obviously increased in recent years as his production trended the opposite direction. Bryant did not fare well without Tony Romo in 2015 and never fell into sync with new starter Dak Prescott. He averaged 50 receptions, 678 yards and 6 touchdowns in the three seasons after his three-year peak. His catch% also plummeted to the low 50s. Although Bryant’s numbers have fallen off, a slew of teams will still be interested in the Oklahoma State product. He’s only 29 and offers matchup problems all over the field. Here are a few teams that make sense:
1. Washington Redskins
The Seahawks released Richard Sherman earlier this offseason, and he hopped on the fastest possible flight to San Francisco. It was a move of spite and revenge. Dez Bryant shares the same boisterous personality. He will look at Dallas’ NFL East rivals first. According to Over the Cap, the Eagles have the second least cap space remaining. The Giants fare only a little better at 8th least. They could potentially swap Bryant for Brandon Marshall, but it seems unlikely. That leaves Washington and their $17 million in cap space. The Redskins already added the speedy Paul Richardson but don’t have many weapons that strike fear into the defense. Josh Doctson is still developing. Jordan Reed could miss half a season with an hangnail. Dez Bryant’s tool set perfectly complements Richardson. Add Jamison Crowder in the slot, and Alex Smith suddenly has a potent offense. There’s also the entertainment factor of putting Bryant and Josh Norman on the same team. Pencil them in for at least one training camp scuffle.
2. Houston Texans
Perhaps the NFC East vengeance plot doesn’t work out. Plan B has Dez Bryant throwing up the X for Jerry Jones’ neighbors to the south. The Texans having the 5th most cap space is somewhat of a mirage due to their need to extend Jadeveon Clowney, but there’s still plenty of cash to work with. Bryant could also follow Tyrann Mathieu’s lead of taking less to play for the team. Imagine an receiving corps with DeAndre Hopkins, Dez Bryant and Will Fuller. If Deshaun Watson needs a break from throwing bombs, he can hand off to the Lamar Miller/D’Onta Foreman backfield tandem. Bryant’s ultimate revenge is Houston becoming the only Texas team to win a Super Bowl in the 21st century.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have $47 million in cap space to sign anyone they want. Dez Bryant is an upgrade over any receiving option on San Francisco’s roster and would provide Jimmy Garoppolo with a redzone safety net. The move makes logical sense for the 49ers. Part of guaranteeing a young quarterback’s success is surrounding him with a cast of playmakers. Both the Bears and Rams have done so with Mitch Trubisky and Jared Goff on rookie contracts. San Francisco has an even higher need for Garoppolo to work out – he recently signed for five years with $74 million guaranteed. The signing would also spark life into one of the league’s classic inter-divisional rivalries.
4. Baltimore Ravens
Like a moth to the flame. Like an elderly quarterback to the Cardinals. Wide receivers aging out of their prime end up in Baltimore. The Ravens likely sit right on the cut off ($10.7 million) for teams in terms of current cap space to sign the 29-year-old. Baltimore has not been shy about the desire to revamp the wide receiver room. The team already inked free agents John Brown and Michael Crabtree to new contracts this offseason. Bryant joining the corps would create a ceiling as high as the floor is low. All three options are great to have, but they come with warning labels. John Brown’s sickle-cell trait has made injuries an issue in the past. Crabtree and Bryant possess attitude and drop problems that flare up at the most inopportune times. Regardless, the annual excuse for Joe Flacco being generally terrible is a dearth of weapons. If Baltimore takes the Dez risk, at least they find out the truth one way or the other.
5. Buffalo Bills
The Patriots are the AFC East team that comes up literally any time a good receiver hits the open market, but New England really doesn’t need Dez Bryant. Jets Safety Jamal Adams has made a twitter pitch to Bryant, but New York is already striving to make an entire football team solely of wide receivers. Seriously, look at their roster.
The Buffalo Bills, however, have a noticeable need at the position. Questions surround Zay Jones after his bizarre arrest a couple weeks ago. A franchise quarterback should hopefully be coming to Buffalo through the Draft. Does Bryant want to play in such a cold weather city? Does he want to break in a rookie signal caller at this point of his career? The Bills have enough money to check.
Header Photo: USA Today