Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant Won’t Take Pay Cut

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said he would not accept a reduction in pay going forward, the pass catcher told reporters including ESPN’s Todd Archer on Wednesday. Dez Bryant

“I haven’t heard no talk about that but if it comes, I don’t know, probably not,” Bryant said. “Hell naw, man. I believe in me.”

Archer notes the three-time Pro Bowl receiver is set to make $12.5 MM while counting $16.5 MM toward the team’s salary cap in 2018. If the Cowboys release him, the team can free up $8.5 million or $12 million if he is cut after June 1.

Between 2012-14, Bryant was among the game’s best wideouts, posting at least 85 catches, 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns in each season. This season has been one to forget, however, with No. 88 amassing just 66 grabs for 815 yards and six touchdowns through Week 16. While the team focuses more on the run now than it did in years past, Bryant has still been inconsistent with frustrating drops and an inability to get open. The receiver placed most of the blame on the scheme rather than his chemistry with second-year quarterback Dak Prescott, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link).

Bryant said he plans on sitting down with owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett to discuss his fit in the team’s scheme. This will be a situation to keep tabs on in the offseason.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Giants, Manning, Cowboys

In theory, Eli Manning could be back in New York next year. But former Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride doesn’t see that happening.

It is hard for me looking in from the outside seeing that happen just knowing the guy,” Gilbride told PFT. “I know he comes across and people look at him like he’s an ‘aww, shucks’ country boy, Huckleberry Finn-kind of guy, but I can assure you that beneath that facade lies the personality of a warrior. He’s going to compete and fight and do everything he can to play at the very highest level and represent himself at the very best and so that’s an investment of tremendous personal sacrifice and time and all that goes into being ready to play the game at the NFL level. So to do that, you’re a prideful guy — and he is — and so his pride has been attacked. I’m sure anything can be repaired but, boy, it would be very very difficult. . . . I don’t see it happening.”

Where could Manning go next? Gilbride, like many, is envisioning a reunion between Manning and Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville.

Here’s more out of the NFC East:

  • Manning might not be the only star leaving the NFC East this offseason. Longtime Dallas beat writer Charean Williams of PFT believes that the Cowboys will have a hard time justifying Dez Bryant‘s salary in 2018. She rightly notes that Bryant hasn’t played up to his contract, which calls for a $12.5MM salary next year with a $16.5MM cap number. The Cowboys may ask Bryant to take a pay cut, but Bryant – who is regarded as one of the league’s most talented wide receivers – may not be on board with that. So far this year, Bryant has 58 catches for 639 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games, putting him on pace for roughly 72 catches, 799 yards, and six TDs. Those numbers aren’t quite on a par with his best work from 2012-2014.
  • The Giants have a plan for increasing rookie quarterback Davis Webb‘s reps and getting into a game, coach Ben McAdoo tells reporters (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan). However, McAdoo declined to share the details of how and when he intends to get Webb involved. What we do know is that Webb will not be the QB1 or QB2 this weekend when the Giants face the Raiders in Oakland this weekend.
  • The Redskins should consider using the non-exclusive franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, one beat writer opines.
  • There’s still no timetable for Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones to take the field.
  • The Cowboys could be without cornerback Orlando Scandrick for a bit.

NFC Notes: Panthers, Norman, Dez, Trubisky

Dave Gettleman‘s ouster as the Panthers general manager stands as this week’s most shocking NFL story, and Joe Person and Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer detail some of the reasons behind his firing. Gettleman’s “brusque management style” and his reshaping of Carolina’s roster after its 15-1, NFC-winning campaign in 2015 contributed to his demise, with his decision to rescind cornerback Josh Norman‘s franchise tag in 2016 helping to decide his fate. Letting Norman loose on the free agent market meant allowing a No. 1-caliber corner to walk away without the club receiving compensation, and it irked some of the team’s players.

A year later, the departure of ex-assistant general manager Brandon Beane also weakened Gettleman’s grip on the GM job. Beane took over as Buffalo’s GM in May, which cost Gettleman the good cop to his bad cop. The loss of Beane negatively affected Gettleman’s work relationships, according to Person and Fowler, as the former “acted as a go-between among the front office, coaching staff and locker room,” the reporters explain. Former Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert, who signed with the Bills after Gettleman released him in February, confirmed that Beane was a valuable figure in Carolina. “As players we all love Beane. We all love being around him,” said Tolbert. “He’s part of the reason we did what we did. I’m happy to have him in Buffalo now, I can tell you that much.”

More from the NFC:

  • Speaking of Norman, who’s now with the Redskins, he could end up as a cap casualty next offseason if he doesn’t make more of an impact this year, suggests Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. With 14 infractions, Norman led the league in penalties last year, Tandler points out. However, it seems he has otherwise lived up to Washington’s five-year, $75MM investment thus far. Norman picked off three passes and forced two fumbles last season – a slight drop-off from four and three, respectively, in 2015 – started all 16 games, easily led Redskins defenders in snaps (1,057) and ranked 24th among Pro Football Focus’ 109 qualified corners. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning that designating the soon-to-be 30-year-old Norman a post-June 1 cut in 2018 would save the Redskins a healthy $14MM and leave them with a manageable $3MM in dead money next season.
  • A lack of punctuality has been a problem for Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant throughout his career, and his issues with reporting to team functions on time have already cropped up this year. Bryant made it to training camp three hours late on Friday, relays Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, though the player informed Jane Slater of NFL Network that he has been dealing with sinus infections and headaches. He’s now working with the Cowboys’ training staff to alleviate his sinus troubles, adds Rapoport. Further, Bryant apologized to Cowboys coaches and “took full responsibility” for his tardiness, writes Slater, but it’s still likely the team will fine him, reports Clarence Hill Jr. of the Star-Telegram (Twitter links here).
  • Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky‘s rookie contract contains partial offsets, tweets Albert Breer of The MMQB. His deal is similar to the one Marcus Mariota signed with the Titans in 2015, when he, like Trubisky this year, entered the league as the second overall pick in his draft class. Mariota and the Titans agreed to make his base salaries (a total of $2.28MM) subject to offsets, but the vast majority of his $24.214MM pact is protected.
  • Cardinals running back Chris Johnson‘s one-year deal includes a $1MM base value, $200K in guarantees and a chance to earn more in incentives, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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Cowboys’ Dez Bryant To Return After Bye Week

The Cowboys won’t have to wait much longer to get their top wide receiver back on the field. Yesterday, after the Cowboys beat the Packers at Lambeau Field, Dez Bryant told Jane Slater of the NFL Network (on Twitter) that he’ll be back after the team’s Week 7 bye. "<strong

[You] don’t have to ask me anymore,” he told the reporter. “I’m good…playing against Philly.

Bryant suffered a slight hairline fracture of the tibial plateau in his right knee in Dallas’ Week 3 game against the Bears. There was hope that he would be able to play through the pain without missing time, but doctors also feared that he could turn the injury into something worse on the field. As a result, he has now missed three consecutive games. He’ll get off the sidelines on Oct. 30, however, as the Cowboys face the rival eagles at home.

Bryant, 28 next month, has just 11 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown in his three games this year. He has been in uniform for just 12 of the Cowboys’ past 21 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant’s Status Uncertain For Sunday

The Cowboys might not have Dez Bryant on the field until October 30th. The wide receiver’s status is uncertain for Sunday’s game against the Packers and owner Jerry Jones tells 105.3 The Fan (Twitter link) that the team won’t take any chances with him. The Cowboys have a Week 7 bye, so that means that Bryant wouldn’t take the field until the Week 8 game against the rival Eagles. Dez Bryant

In three games this year, Bryant has tallied 11 receptions for 150 yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, he has been sidelined since Sept. 25th and it’s not immediately clear when the Cowboys will get him back. Hopefully, the wide receiver can recover from the hairline fracture and bone bruise in his knee after a couple more weeks of rest. Reportedly, Bryant hasn’t always done a great job of taking care of himself and his sleep habits have been particularly poor.

Bryant has suited up for just 12 of the Cowboys’ past 20 games.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Likely Out Sunday

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will test his injured right knee in practice Friday, but he’s unlikely to play Sunday against the Bengals, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Bryant, who suffered a hairline fracture in Week 3, sat out Dallas’ 24-17 win in San Francisco last Sunday. The 3-1 Cowboys are now set for a more difficult test in the form of the playoff-contending Bengals (2-2).

Dez Bryant

Injuries have helped cut down Bryant’s production since last season, unfortunately, as the 27-year-old has suited up for just 12 of the Cowboys’ past 20 games. His statistical drop-off has also coincided with the more serious injuries quarterback Tony Romo has dealt with going back to last year.

Romo hasn’t yet taken the field this season because of a back issue, thereby paving the way for rookie Dak Prescott to take the reins. The fourth-rounder from Mississippi State has easily exceeded expectations, having completed 67.9 percent of passes and gone 131 attempts without an interception. Only 11 of Prescott’s 89 completions have gone to Bryant, whom Prescott has targeted 23 times, after the three-time Pro Bowl wideout picked up just 31 grabs and three touchdowns on 74 targets in 2015. Bryant also averaged a career-worst 12.9 yards per catch, which is up slightly this year (13.6).

Off the field, Bryant has reportedly exhibited a “pattern of irresponsible behavior” since the Cowboys drafted him 24th overall in 2010. The ex-Oklahoma State star has missed between 20 and 40 team meetings during his NFL career, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with a source informing him that Bryant’s longevity is in question because of poor sleep and dietary habits. However, the Cowboys have stuck by the immensely talented Bryant, who is under team control through 2019 thanks to the five-year, $70MM deal he inked in July 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Exhibiting “Irresponsible Behavior”

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant missed an MRI and team meetings earlier this week because he feared the worst on his injured right knee, but those absences were just the latest in a “pattern of irresponsible behavior,” according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Bryant has been late or completely missed between 20 and 40 meetings and or medical sessions during his career in Dallas, per Schefter.Dez Bryant (vertical)

[RELATED: Tony Romo Targeting Week 8 Return]

The Cowboys organization and his agents at Roc Nation have helped him become more accountable, and Bryant has even hired a driver to ensure that he attends team functions on time. But one source told Schefter that Dallas can be accused of enabling Bryant, issuing him fines for his behavior instead of handing out more significant penalties. Another source, per Schefter, is concerned about Bryant’s career longevity, as his poor sleep and dietary habits could limit his staying power.

Bryant, however, doesn’t believe his actions to be a serious issue, according to Schefter, and the Cowboys have publicly supported their star receiver. As one Cowboys player said, Bryant is perhaps being treated differently because of his talent level. “If you were hoping for him to come to a scheduled meeting, he may or may not be there, but if you need a first down on third-and-14, throw it to Dez,” said the anonymous player.

On the field, Bryant may be able to return sooner than originally thought. A source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that Bryant has a bone bruise, and that he should be able to play in less than three weeks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cowboys’ Dez Bryant

While initial reports indicated that Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his knee, a source who has seen Bryant’s MRI said the pass-catcher has a bone bruise, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). As such, Bryant is expected to miss less than three weeks while dealing with the injury.Dez Bryant

[RELATED: Cowboys Holding Off On La’el Collins’ Surgery]

Bryant reportedly missed an MRI exam and team meetings on Monday and Tuesday because he feared the worst with his injured right knee, but per Rapoport, the ailment doesn’t present any long-term risk. Bryant’s decision to skip his duties opened him up to team-imposed fines, though there’s no word on whether the Cowboys will discipline him.

So far this year, Bryant has 11 receptions for 150 yards and one touchdown to his credit. Last season, Bryant saw career-lows across the board as he caught 31 balls for 401 yards and three touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dez Bryant

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant missed an MRI exam and team meetings on Monday and Tuesday because he feared the worst with his injured right knee, head coach Jason Garrett revealed Wednesday (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com).

Dez Bryant (vertical)

“He’s a very passionate guy, like we’ve talked about, and he really thought he was going to get some bad news when he got the MRI on Monday,” said Garrett. “Like some of us do in life, at times, he avoided it and didn’t come in to take care of his business on Monday or Tuesday. Then he came in on Wednesday and took care of that part of it (the MRI). We got the information. He suspected it was worse than the information that we got.”

Bryant’s decision to skip Monday and Tuesday opened him up to team-imposed fines, though there’s no word on whether the Cowboys will discipline him.

For his part, Bryant added in a tweet (sic), “I made a poor decision based on how I felt about my knee coach JG addressed it to me and I understood the consequences.”

Upon returning to the club Wednesday, Bryant underwent an MRI, as Garrett mentioned, and received the news of a hairline fracture. There’s a chance Bryant will be able to play against the 49ers on Sunday, but he could also miss multiple weeks. Bryant tweeted Thursday that his status is “day to day” and said he received “great feedback” on his knee from Dr. James Andrews.

Dallas played much of last season without either Bryant or quarterback Tony Romo and stumbled to a 4-12 record. The Cowboys are already halfway to matching that win total through three weeks, but they’ve gotten there without Romo. The back injury the veteran suffered during the preseason opened the door for fourth-round rookie Dak Prescott, who has held his own thus far. Still, the Prescott-led Cowboys obviously don’t want to go without their most accomplished wideout, Bryant, who has picked up 11 receptions, 150 yards and a touchdown this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.