Dez Bryant

NFC North Notes: Packers, Dez, Vikes, Barr

Although the Packers have been linked to a possible Dez Bryant addition, quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn’t see a fit, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com writes. “Well, we like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they’re going to keep going,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy [Nelson] and bring in Dez, but he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.” Green Bay drafted three wideouts to team with incumbents Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison, so as Rodgers notes, there’s probably not room for a veteran like Bryant on the club’s roster. The Packers, despite having been loosely connected to Bryant since he was released by the Cowboys, are not currently pursuing the 29-year-old pass-catcher.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • Linebacker Anthony Barr was not present for the Vikings‘ organized team activities this week, according to Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Under the terms of his fifth-year option, Barr is fully guaranteed a base salary north of $12MM for the 2018 season, but he likely still doesn’t want to place himself in undue injury peril given that he doesn’t have a long-term contract in place. Barr’s fifth-year option doesn’t contain any sort of workout clauses, so he’s not costing himself money by not attending voluntary sessions. As Goessling tweets, Barr was present for a Mike Zimmer football camp at the Vikings’ facility over the weekend, suggesting there is no acrimony in talks with Minnesota.
  • New Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst attempted to hire Ravens scout Milt Hendrickson as his assistant GM earlier this year, but Baltimore and GM Ozzie Newsome denied the request, as Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com reports (Twitter link). Hendrickson has been with the Ravens since 2006, writes Zach Kruse of PackersWire.com, who adds Hendrickson worked alongside Gutekunst at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Hendrickson still lives in La Crosse, per McGinn, and could join the Packers’ staff in 2019.
  • Former Buccaneers defensive line coach Jay Hayes will serve as a Packers defensive consultant through at least training camp, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). While Hayes’ assignment currently only lasts through training, it sound as though there may be an opportunity for Hayes to stick around further. Hayes, who was fired by Tampa Bay in Feburary, previously served on the Bengals’ coaching staff for 13 years.

Community Tailgate: Where Will Dez Bryant Play In 2018?

Dez Bryant sits atop PFR’s most recent ranking of the top 10 offensive players still available on the free agent market. Still just 29, he is a three-time Pro-Bowler with one first-team All-Pro nod to his credit, and he was targeted 132 times last season. Though he is clearly no longer the player he was earlier in his career, the fact that he has only piqued the interest of just one team — the Ravens — since he was released by the Cowboys is a surprise.

Of course, the timing of his release was a bit unfortunate. He was cut over a month after free agency opened, and at that point, most of the WR1/WR2 vacancies had been filled, and teams did not have as much money to spend. Plus, with the draft right around the corner, clubs were devoting more attention to collegiate prospects than anything else.

Baltimore did offer Bryant a three-year, $21MM pact, but he turned it down, as he prefers a one-year deal that would enable him to boost his value and give himself one more shot at a big-money contract (if he had his way, he would also sign on with an NFC East team). Outside of the Ravens’ offer, however, the only news on Bryant is that teams are not interested in him, even on a league minimum deal. There are a number of clubs that still make sense as a potential landing spot — like the Packers and Bills — but those teams have generally indicated that they do not plan to pursue the former first-round selection.

Bryant was never a gifted route runner, and his earlier success stemmed largely from his athleticism and his ability to make contested catches. As he has gotten older and dealt with injury problems, his physical advantages have evaporated to a large degree, and that reality, combined with his perceived attitude issues, is doubtlessly scaring teams away. But still….no interest at all?

As always, players will sustain injuries, players will underperform, and front office executives will reassess their roster on a daily basis. Bryant will find a job, even if he has to accept a contract not at all to his liking. But we would like to know your thoughts on the matter. Why is no one willing to entertain the notion of signing him right now, where will he ultimately end up, and what does the future hold for the Oklahoma State product who was one of the most exciting players in football not too long ago?

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bryant: No Regrets On Turning Down Ravens

After being released by the Cowboys, wide receiver Dez Bryant turned down a reported three-year deal worth roughly $21MM from the Ravens, choosing instead to wait for a similarly lucrative one-year offer. So far, that offer hasn’t come through, but Bryant claims that he doesn’t regret that decision “one bit” (Twitter link). 

Bryant may not see it this way, but it sure looks like he missed the boat on his best possible deal. While the Ravens were willing to give him an average annual value of $7MM to match free agent acquisition Michael Crabtree, many teams are unwilling to consider him for even the league minimum.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where Bryant will land at this point in the offseason. As recently noted by our own Dallas Robinson, the Cardinals, Packers, Patriots, Redskins, and Seahawks would all make varying degrees of sense for the multiple time Pro Bowler. However, we’ve heard no real news of Bryant being connected to any club since his talks with the Ravens and the Packers are not engaged with him at this time.

Last year, Bryant recorded just 838 yards and six touchdowns off of 69 catches, a far cry from his average of 91 catches for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns from 2012-14. His dip in production and perceived locker room issues have been serious barriers towards his pursuit of a platform contract, but he says that he will suit up for a team no matter what.

“No, I’m not retiring,” Bryant wrote on Twitter. “For the record, me not being signed to a team yet has a lot to do with my personal decisions. This media [sic] is a joke.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Not Pursuing Dez Bryant

Former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten thinks the Packers would be a logical landing spot for Dez Bryant, but we shouldn’t expect to see the wide receiver land in Green Bay. At this point, the Packers are not engaged with Bryant’s camp and nothing is imminent on that front, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) hears. 

Shortly after Bryant’s release from the Cowboys, league sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that the Packers were one of four potential destinations for the veteran. Some would argue that the Packers could use more firepower in the WR department, but Packers decision makers do not agree – or, at the very least, they do not see Bryant as a fit at this time.

Bryant turned down a multi-year offer from the Ravens earlier this offseason, a proposal that would have paid him roughly $21MM over three years. Bryant turned down Baltimore as his preference is to play on a one-year deal and cash in next year. Given the lack of league-wide interest in Bryant at this time, he may already be regretting that decision. Since then, the Ravens have moved on by signing restricted free agent Willie Snead.

Bryant’s lack of production in 2017 is obviously at the root of his employment problems, but one has to imagine his perceived attitude issues are also a factor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Notes: Bryant, Kizer

Dez Bryant remains unsigned, but former teammate Jason Witten has some thoughts on where he might land.

I think he’s going to end up going to the Green Bay Packers,” Witten told ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram). “I think that’s a great spot for him. Aaron Rodgers, he throws that back-shoulder throw so well, and Dez [can have] great chemistry with a good quarterback that can put the ball wherever he wants.”

The Packers could be a logical fit for Bryant after the team moving on from Jordy Nelson earlier this offseason. The Packers added a proven weapon for Rodgers in tight end Jimmy Graham, but Bryant would fortify a wide receiver group that is currently headlined by Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and Geronimo Allison.

Here’s more from Green Bay:

Latest On Dez Bryant

The market for Dez Bryant is not nearly as strong as he expected it to be. At this point, there are “far more” teams unwilling to pay Bryant the league minimum salary than there are teams that would consider Bryant, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via PFT). 

Bryant recently turned down a multi-year offer from the Ravens and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) hears that it was in the neighborhood of the team’s three-year, $21MM deal for Michael Crabtree. The wide receiver wanted a one-year deal that would allow him to cash in as a free agent in 2019, but the Ravens could only offer Bryant a multi-year deal due to cap restrictions.

Right now, it looks like Bryant has overplayed his hand. Bryant may have to settle for less than the $7MM average annual value he would have gotten from Baltimore, which is a tough pill to swallow given his previous five-year, $70MM deal with Dallas.

Bryant says that he would like to sign with an NFC East team in order to play against Dallas twice in 2018, but it’s not clear whether he’ll find serious interest from the Eagles or Giants. We learned shortly after Bryant’s release from the Cowboys that the Redskins are not looking to sign him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: J. Allen, Dez, Jets, Pats

Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, whom the Bills selected with the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft, is believed by many to have the highest upside of any rookie QB in the 2018 class. However, he is also considered quite raw, and given that Buffalo acquired A.J. McCarron — who does not have much NFL game experience, but who has at least been in the league for a few years — this offseason, the general belief is that Allen will be McCarron’s backup before he gets a chance to establish himself.

But Buffalo GM Brandon Beane is not willing to relegate Allen to the No. 2 job just yet. Beane said (via Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, citing NewYorkUpstate.com), “We’re not going to rush him, but you know if he somehow wins the job, he wins it…There will be 52 other players out there and if they see that he’s clearly the best, I don’t think we could [not start him]. We wouldn’t do that at any other position, so we’ll let it go. But he’s got a lot of catching up to do, that’s the thing.”

Now for more AFC East items, starting with another note out of Buffalo:

  • The Bills could use another quality wideout behind starters Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. They added two receivers with their last two picks of the draft (Ray-Ray McCloud with the No. 187 pick and Austin Proehl with the No. 255 pick), but neither player figures to make an immediate impact. However, the team is not interested in free agent Dez Bryant. Beane said, per Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, “We have looked at Dez on tape, but I wouldn’t take it any further and I don’t know where that would go. We’re looking to get better at all positions and receiver is one, so if we thought that was the right fit for us we would potentially pursue it.”
  • The Jets currently have five QBs on the roster, and teams have been in contact with Gang Green about the possibility of trading for one of those five signal-callers, Bryce Petty. Per Calvin Watkins of Newsday.com (via Twitter), GM Mike Maccagnan essentially confirmed as much, and while he did not mention any names, he sounded hopeful that he could find trading partners for all of his QB surplus (which also includes Christian Hackenberg). When asked if he will need to cut a quarterback, Maccagnan said, “We’ll see how that unfolds going forward. There’s always conversations you have with teams and we’ll see how that unfolds in [a] little bit of time.”
  • There are plenty of mixed feelings on the Patriots‘ 2018 draft class, but as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com observes, the team has a bevy of early picks in the 2019 draft (six selections in the first three rounds). While some have wondered why New England did not draft a signal-caller who could be the heir apparent to Tom Brady, Reiss says the Pats were very aggressive in scouting this year’s crop of QBs but ultimately felt the starting-caliber options did not fall far enough to pursue and did not want to overdraft a backup-type. Reiss, though, believes New England could use their 2019 draft haul to land its QB of the future.

Dez Bryant Rejects Offer From Ravens

Former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant turned down a multi-year offer from the Ravens, according to veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder (on Twitter). Bryant is seeking a significant one-year deal that will allow him to secure a lucrative long-term contract as an unrestricted free agent next year. 

It’s not clear if the Ravens are still pursuing Bryant, but it would be surprising if their offer was still on the table after the signing of restricted free agent Willie Snead was finalized earlier this week. Baltimore now boasts a wide receiver group that is headlined by three newcomers in Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Snead and as well as Chris Moore and former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, so it’s hard to see how there could be enough targets for everyone to share.

The Ravens wanted to lock Bryant down for multiple seasons, but other Bryant suitors will likely be willing to do a one-year deal. Bryant was once amongst the league’s very best wide receivers, but there are tons of question marks about his ability after he posted just 838 yards off of 69 catches in 2017. A one-year deal would also help to ensure that Bryant is exceptionally motivated as he chases another high-paying contract.

Earlier this month, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter identified the Cardinals, Bills, and Packers as potential fits, along with the Ravens. So far, the Ravens have been the only team concretely connected to Bryant. Ideally, Bryant says that he would like to sign with an NFC East team in order to exact revenge on Dallas twice in 2018. On paper, the Giants would make the most sense of any team in the division, but they have yet to express interest in him, even after releasing Brandon Marshall. Meanwhile, we’ve heard nothing connecting the Eagles to the wide receiver and the Redskins do not have him on their radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Won’t Sign Before Draft

Dez Bryant will land somewhere, but it won’t happen today or tomorrow. The former Cowboys wide receiver is not expected to sign before the draft and his free agency stint could last into May, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears.

At this point, it only makes sense for teams to wait until after the draft to assess their level of need for Bryant. Bryant won’t match the $12.5MM he was set to earn with Dallas in 2018, but it’s safe to say that he’ll command at least a few million on a one-year contract and that’s not exactly chump change for teams. If a club that is interested in Bryant drafts someone like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, or Christian Kirk, they’ll be less apt to spend on the 29-year-old.

It’s not clear which teams are after Bryant at this stage. The Ravens were said to have interest, but the addition of Willie Snead likely takes them out of the running. For his part, Bryant is reportedly looking to sign with an NFC East team in order to exact revenge on Dallas, but there’s no obvious fit within the division. The Redskins are not interested, it’s not clear whether the Eagles have him on the radar, and the Giants are not pursuing him at this time. A return to Dallas is not in the cards either.

Bryant averaged 91 catches for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Cowboys between 2012 and 2014. Over the last three years, however, those averages have plummeted to 50 catches for 678 yards and 6 TDs. He also missed ten games due to injury between 2015 and 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jerry Jones Reaffirms Cowboys Are Moving On From Dez Bryant

Just in case there were any thoughts to the contrary, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones closed the book on any chance of wide receiver Dez Bryant returning to the team. The Cowboys released the three-time Pro Bowler earlier this month.

“I have no thoughts about the timing when we decided to move on [from Dez Bryant],” Jones said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter) “… I think a nice, crisp time to call it a day was the way to do this. We need to move on knowing that we don’t have Dez.”

It’s certainly not a shock that the Cowboys reiterated that Bryant’s tenure in Dallas is over. But the fact he’s yet to sign with a team could’ve have raised some eyebrows.

Bryant had expressed interst in joining the NFC East rival New York Giants but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported last week that the Giants are not interested in signing Bryant at the moment. It’s also been reported that the Jaguars and Browns are out on the Bryant sweepstakes. It was reported that the Ravens were interested in Bryant as well, though they also signed Willie Snead to an offer sheet last week.

Despite picking up Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency, the Cowboys are still likely to pick up a receiver at some point in the draft. But they’re not going to try and directly replace the workload of Bryant. They also have Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer on the roster at wide receiver.

“I think we recognize that we have a hole to fill with Dez,” Jones said, via Machota (on Twitter). We know we won’t [get] a pure X receiver to replace Dez [out of this draft].”