Dallas Cowboys release Dez Bryant: A timeline of the wide receiver's career
A look back at the journey that led to Bryant's unceremonious departure from Dallas
Things Dallas Cowboys , one of their most recognizable players of the decade.on an otherwise quiet afternoon on Friday, when the
The reasons for the Cowboys releasing their No. 1 wide receiver are plentiful, albeit debatable: They'll be saving $8 million in 2018, Bryant hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2014, and quarterback Dak Prescott was apparently ready to throw to someone else.
As Dez finds another home from which he can throw up the "X," we take a look back at the major plot points of his time with America's Team:
Drafted in the first round in 2010
Much like most of his career, Bryant didn't join the Cowboys without some controversy. As a consensus top receiver prospect in the 2010 draft, he slipped out of the top 20 amid alleged character concerns, some of which stemmed from him missing all but three games during his senior year at Oklahoma State due to a violation of NCAA rules. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys made it clear they wanted a new big-name wideout post-Terrell Owens, though, trading up three spots to select Bryant.
Donning the No. 88 made famous by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and another longtime Cowboy, Drew Pearson, Bryant didn't waste much time showcasing his starting potential, scoring three touchdowns, including one as a punt returner, during "Monday Night Football" in October and becoming the first Dallas rookie to top 100 receiving yards since Antonio Bryant (2002) a month later. Even a broken ankle didn't stop him from ranking among the top first-year receivers.
Rise to a starting role
By year two of his NFL career, Bryant had already immersed himself in headlines, for better or worse. No more than two months into his first full offseason as an anticipated starter opposite Miles Austin, he was given a criminal trespass warning after a dispute at a Dallas shopping mall, and that was just before he got hit with a lawsuit for unpaid jewelry and personal loans. On the field, he quickly became one of quarterback Tony Romo's favorite targets, falling just short of 1,000 yards in 2011.
Emergence as 'the next Megatron'
Bryant's peak years were 2012-2014, when he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark thrice. Off-field concerns weren't non-existent then, as he confronted a misdemeanor domestic violence charge for an incident involving his mother in June 2012. But otherwise, he was at the top of his game, going off for 1,382 yards in 14 starts that year, upping his catch total to 93 in 2013 and then earning favorable comparisons to the Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson with a whopping 16 touchdown catches in 2014, his second Pro Bowl season and first as an All-Pro.
Big contract and an injury-riddled decline
Bryant's infamous non-catch catch in the Cowboys' 2014 playoff game vs. the Green Bay Packers marked the unofficial start of his downfall in Dallas. Jerry Jones rewarded him handsomely for his all-star rise, dishing out a five-year, $70-million extension before 2015, but foot and ankle injuries limited Bryant to nine games and 401 yards that season. The following year, things were just so-so with Prescott at QB and Bryant missing another three games due to injury. And 2017 might've been the biggest sign of decline, with the 29-year-old marred by drops and pedestrian production (838 yards, 12.1 yards per catch) despite a 16-game season. By the time he became the Cowboys' all-time leader in touchdown catches, his impact had effectively been relegated to the red zone.
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