After short meeting with Cowboys, receiver Dez Bryant released

Shutdown Corner

It took until Friday for the Dallas Cowboys to reach a conclusion that seemed probable months ago: Receiver Dez Bryant was released.

After a short meeting with the team, the Cowboys released their star receiver. The speculation about Bryant having to take a pay cut started before last season even ended. Near the end of the Cowboys season, Bryant replied “Hell, no,” when asked if he would take a pay cut from his 2018 salary of $12.5 million. This wasn’t a new issue for the Cowboys, yet they waited until mid-April, a month after free agency started, to meet face-to-face with Bryant.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant had 838 yards for the Cowboys last season. (AP)
Wide receiver Dez Bryant had 838 yards for the Cowboys last season. (AP)
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However, a pay cut wasn’t an option for remaining a Cowboy, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill reported.

Bryant’s reaction: This wasn’t my decision

Bryant reacted on Twitter after the meeting at Cowboys headquarters was finished.

What will Bryant’s market be like?

Bryant will have value on the open market, but likely not near the salary he was expected to make in 2018. The free-agent crop at receiver was thin yet again, and some teams still have some holes to fill. Bryant has been a controversial figure through his NFL career, and teams will have to take that into account, but he is still a talented receiver even if he’s not a top-10 receiver anymore.

Bryant is just 29 years old, so he should have at least some good football left. Bryant has remained very confident in his ability, so perhaps a one-year “prove it” deal might be the best for him and his new team.

Could it be in the NFC East? Here’s what Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson had to say on the matter:

Bryant hinted to a reporter that indeed a division rival is a potential destination:

Can Bryant rebound to his Pro Bowl level?

Bryant has been a mainstay for the Cowboys since 2010, since he was the team’s first-round pick. From 2012-14 he was one of the best receivers in the NFL, with at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns each season. Then injuries cut short his 2015 and 2016 seasons, and he didn’t look like the same player in 2017. He struggled to separate and had just 838 yards in 16 games. Bryant complained about the criticism on Twitter this week, but the Cowboys obviously had questions about whether he was worth his salary anymore.

Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million deal in 2015, at the end of a public dispute about the Cowboys using the franchise tag on him. He was not been a great receiver for Dallas after signing the deal, and his $12.5 million salary seemed excessive if the Cowboys weren’t sure he could rebound to his 2012-14 level.

Jerry Jones’ reaction

Perhaps this move really stung for the Cowboys owner. Here’s what stood out in his official statement on the release:

“Dez and I share a personal and professional relationship that is very strong, and he is one of just a handful of players with whom I have become that close to over the past 30 years.

“This was not an easy decision.”

What will the Cowboys do next?

The Cowboys now have to figure out how to replace Bryant, and they’ll be in the mix for a receiver with their first-round pick. Players like Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Maryland’s D.J. Moore and SMU’s Courtland Sutton will be interesting to the Cowboys if they’re available when Dallas goes on the clock with the 19th pick. The Cowboys also signed receivers Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns this offseason, though neither project as No. 1 receivers like Bryant has been in Dallas for many years.

The Cowboys will find someone, or a few people, to take Bryant’s spot. But in many ways, it will be strange to see the Cowboys next season without their longtime No. 1 wideout.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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