One of the more explosive rumors of the 2018 NFL offseason has the Dallas Cowboys moving on from wide receiver Dez Bryant. Dez is set to count against the Boys' books for $16.5 million in 2018, but his production has not aligned with that figure for a few years now. Dallas can save $8.5 million by cutting ties with Bryant prior to June 1, and $12.5 million by designating him a post-June 1 release.
Jerry Jones says you should not expect that to happen. Speaking at the NFL combine on Saturday, Jerry stated that the Cowboys intend to talk to Dez about his contract this offseason, but that he expects Bryant to be with the team next season.
Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will have a conversation with Dez Bryant about his contract but his goal is clear: "You have asked me as I sit here do you want him on the team next year and my answer is yes."— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) March 3, 2018
Jerry: I’ve had a lot of business with Dez over the years. It’s not awkward at all to plan on visiting with him. We’re both comfortable being candid. I don’t want to give any answer that I have anything in my mind that he’s not with the Cowboys.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) March 3, 2018
A subsequent report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport indicated that we should not expect a short-term extension that artificially lowers Bryant's 2018 cap hit and keeps him with the Cowboys beyond the length of his current deal.
My understanding is it won’t be a short extension. Sounds like a pay cut or other tinkering of the final year. Moving on seems like the last resort https://t.co/sIfxYLC9RI— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 3, 2018
The Cowboys don't have much in the way of quality depth beyond Bryant at the receiver position. The team was ecstatic to get Terrance Williams back on what it believed was a below-market deal last offseason, but he finished the 2017 season with only 568 receiving yards and did not score a single touchdown. Cole Beasley, who had the best year of his career in 2016, saw his effectiveness wane in 2017. Fourth-round pick Ryan Switzer and seventh-rounder Noah Brown did not make any impact in the passing game.
Dez may not be worth his cap hit in 2018, but cutting ties would be a step backward at a position where the team clearly lacked speed and explosiveness last year and badly needs to upgrade this offseason. Jerry seems to view things the same way, and it will be interesting to watch how the Cowboys approach the wide receiver spot throughout the rest of this offseason.