Dez Bryant

Cowboys Notes: Jerry, Dez, Witten

This is not exactly surprising given that he’ll turn 78 in October, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not planning to remain at the helm beyond the expiration of the next CBA, as Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets. Of course, the proposed CBA that will soon be voted on by the league’s workforce is another 10-year agreement, so it makes sense that Jones, who has owned the club since 1989, would be prepared to step down around the time the players and owners sit down again in another decade or so.

However, he is adamant that the proposed CBA is the right move for the league and should be ratified by the players.

Now for more from Dallas:

  • Former star wideout Dez Bryant hasn’t played since 2017, but he wants to continue his NFL career and recently expressed his desire to rejoin the Cowboys. For what it’s worth, Jones said he hasn’t ruled it out, as Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Jones even revealed a little more than we may have liked, saying he has considered the matter while in the shower.
  • Jones would also like tight end Jason Witten to return to the team, as Hill notes (Twitter link). However, it sounds like Jones has a reduced role in mind for Witten, and it remains to be seen whether Witten — who is open to signing elsewhere — will be receptive to that.
  • Likewise, Jones wants to retain pass-rusher Robert Quinn (Twitter link via Hill). The last we heard, the Cowboys had not discussed a new contract with Quinn — understandable, as the club has bigger fish to fry at the moment — but Quinn posted 11.5 sacks in a resurgent 2019 campaign, and Jones hopes there is a way he can keep him in Dallas.
  • Another member of the Cowboys’ front seven, Tyrone Crawford, is under contract through 2020, but the Cowboys could save $6.9MM by cutting him. That could be tempting, given that Crawford played in just four games in 2019 and had surgery on both of his hips. However, the 30-year-old said he could return to the field this spring, and Jones expects him to be on the roster, though he is definitely a restructure candidate (Twitter link via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News).
  • Cowboys DE Michael Bennett signed a new contract with the Cowboys after Dallas acquired him from the Patriots in October that allows him to hit free agency this year. As such, his comments to ESPN’s Josina Anderson indicating that he wants to play in 2020 are not surprising (Twitter link). It sounds as though Bennett, 34, wants to hook on with a contender, and there should be a market for his services.

Dez Bryant Wants To Play For Cowboys

Recently, Cowboys VP Stephen Jonesphone has been blowing up with texts from Dez Bryant, who is hoping to reunite with his former club. This week, Bryant directly confirmed his desire to sign with the Cowboys. 

[RELATED: Cowboys VP On Dez Bryant]

Of course, that’s home,” Bryant told the local FOX affiliate (via USA Today’s Lorenzo Reyes). “That’s home. And potentially being able to play with Dak [Prescott], [Ezekiel Elliott], Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, those guys, [Blake] Jarwin – I think that would be great. I understand that’s their team, but I feel like they have the right pieces to go to the Super Bowl, and I feel like I can help be a part of that, if possible. But every night, I’m just working, grinding, trying to get on that field either way.”

On the verge of what would be his age-32 season and a couple seasons removed from his last NFL game, Bryant is taking a realistic approach to free agency this time around. Once one of the league’s most notable wide receivers, he seems aware of the NFL’s perception of him with regards to his age, late-career decline, rust, and personality.

Bryant was a three-time Pro Bowler in Dallas with three-straight seasons of at least 1,200 yards. After his impressive run, he inked a five-year, $70MM contract with the Cowboys. That’s when things started to tail off – Bryant was limited to nine games in ’15 and underwent ankle and foot surgeries in the offseason. In 2016, he bounced back with a career-high 15.9 yards per grab, though the catch and yardage totals were not as gaudy as his best ones. In 2017, he started in all 16 regular season games, but his production did not match the contract. The Cowboys cut him in the following April – crummy timing that resulted in tepid interest at his asking price.

Heavily criticized for rejecting a three-year, $21MM offer from the Ravens, Bryant sat until the midpoint of the season when he signed a low-cost one-year deal with the Saints. Soon after, he ruptured his Achilles tendon.

After dedicating the 2019 season to rehab and training, Bryant is anxious to retake the field. However, he says he won’t consider the XFL.

Nah, not at all,” said Bryant when asked about Vince McMahon’s reboot. “I know I can still play. That’s not an issue for me. I have high confidence in myself. No disrespect to the XFL, I just know I can play in (the NFL), that’s not a question.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Wants To Return To Cowboys

Could Dez Bryant reunite with the Cowboys? Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says the wide receiver has reached out to him and he’s not ruling out the possibility of signing the veteran.

He has texted me that he would like to come back,” Jones said (via Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram). “We have nothing but great respect for Dez and what he accomplished here. Certainly, as we look forward into the future we look at all opportunities and all potential players that could maybe help us out.”

There haven’t been advanced discussions regarding Bryant just yet, however. Jones explained that he has only started discussing personnel with head coach Mike McCarthy. The two haven’t made determinations on their own free agents either, so Jones says nothing has been decided regarding tight end Jason Witten or linebacker Sean Lee.

Bryant spent eight years with the Cowboys, racking up 531 catches, nearly 7,500 yards, and a franchise-high 73 receiving touchdowns. His run included three straight seasons of at least 88 grabs, 1,200 yards, and 12 touchdowns. During that window from 2012-2014, Bryant was one of the league’s best receivers, and the Cowboys gave him a lucrative contract to reflect his production.

Of course, things didn’t end too well for Bryant and the Cowboys. In his last three seasons with Dallas, Bryant failed to top 900 yards. Then, the Cowboys dropped him in April of 2018, which put him on the curb after most of the NFL’s available free agent dollars had been allocated. Midway through the ’18 season, Bryant hooked on with the Saints. He never suited up for them, however, thanks to an Achilles tear in practice. Last year, Bryant was away from the NFL and training for an eventual return.

Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowler, will turn 32 in November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dez Bryant Eyeing NFL Comeback

Dez Bryant is looking to make his NFL return ASAP. This week, the former Cowboys wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he’s “feeling good” and intends to reach out to teams in the next couple of weeks. 

After departing from the Cowboys last year, Bryant hooked on with the Saints. Unfortunately, his season ended before it began when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Finally, the veteran says he’s ready to rock.

The Eagles would be one logical fit for Bryant after losing DeSean Jackson to a core muscle injury. However, they’ve reunited with Jordan Matthews, so they may be set on the WR depth chart.

Bryant, 31, has not played since the 2017 season. He notoriously sat out much of last season and declined multiple offers, including a lucrative three-year, $21MM pitch from the Ravens, before joining the Saints midway through the season.

This time around, it’s unlikely that he’ll see anything close to a $7MM AAV, or much in the way of guaranteed money beyond 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Interested In Dez Bryant Return

Dez Bryant‘s Saints run did not produce any game action, the former All-Pro’s New Orleans tenure including brief practice work before a torn Achilles’ tendon sent him to IR.

But the Saints are curious about what Bryant has left. They would like Bryant to return, according to NFL.com’s Jane Slater (via Pro Football Talk).

Now 30, Bryant has not played since the 2017 season. He notoriously sat out much of last season, declining multiple offers, and wanted to re-enter free agency in 2019. Although Bryant is back in free agency, his Achilles injury scuttled his plan. Another one-year deal is almost certain for the former Cowboys standout.

New Orleans has go-to wideout Michael Thomas, who is entering a contract year, but none of its other receivers solidified themselves as a reliable option last season. The Saints’ lack of an upper-echelon tight end affected their passing game as well, but the Drew Brees-led offense obviously was one of the league’s best. Bryant, if he’s healthy, could fit as a possession-based auxiliary target, however.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: CBA, Cowboys, Coates, Dez Bryant, Broncos Ownership

Many current and former players, as well as some team owners, have spoken out about the NFL’s Marijuana policy and called it archaic. After years of players facing lengthy suspension for using the substance, it appears change could finally be on the way. The league hopes to get rid of the ban on players smoking Marijuana, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, but there is a catch.

Florio reports that the league doesn’t just want to change the policy on their own, but they instead want to “dangle” potential changes in the next collective bargaining agreement to secure “a concession from the union in exchange for softening a policy that badly needs to be softened.” The next CBA negotiations are expected to be highly contentious, and there have been rumors another lockout could be on the way, so it’s not surprising the league wants every bit of leverage they can get.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • We heard earlier today that the Cowboys were working out receiver Sammie Coates, but don’t expect Dallas to sign him. The team isn’t going to sign the former Steeler and Brown, and were just “taking a look” at the wideout, according to Clarence Hill Jr. of the Forth-Worth Star Telegram (Twitter link). Coates was once a pretty productive and highly thought of receiver for Pittsburgh, but has had trouble staying in the league the past couple of seasons. Still only 25, the Auburn product will likely resurface somewhere soon.
  • Dez Bryant suffered a devastating Achilles injury just after finally signing with the Saints, but the 30-year-old plans to keep playing. “I have to. I got business and I got ball. I can’t end like this”, Bryant told a Dallas radio station, per Jon Machota of Dallas News (Twitter link). Bryant might not be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but should be able to find a home on a one-year prove it deal.
  • We’ve heard a lot about the Broncos’ ownership situation over the last few months, and now finally owner Pat Bowlen’s wife Annabel is speaking out. Annabel filed a motion and joined the ongoing legal saga, and filed her motion in support of the trust her husband set up to run the team, according to Kevin Vaughan of Denver 9 News. Pat’s brother Bill is currently suing, trying to get the trust dissolved and to seize control of the team.
  • The Giants worked out defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng, a source told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Boateng is a Canadian who has played very well in the CFL the past couple of years. This time of year it’s common to see CFL players get workouts for consideration for next season, as they aren’t eligible to be signed until after the season is over. Boateng has gotten workouts with the Chargers and Jets recently, so NFL scouts clearly see some potential there.

NFC Notes: Dez, Seahawks, McCarthy

Saints WR Dez Bryant suffered a brutal blow when he tore his Achilles just two days after signing with the club, thereby shelving him for about eight months. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) noted that Bryant’s recovery timeline could make his 2019 foray into free agency just as complicated as his 2018 one, though RapSheet does report in a separate piece that the Saints are open to bringing Bryant back next season (which Jay Glazer of FOX Sports [video link] also hears). Rapoport also says that Saints head coach Sean Payton fully expects Bryant to continue his playing career, and that Saints players quickly got to know Bryant and were stung by the injury (Twitter link). Given that, and given that Bryant made a concerted effort to improve his route running this offseason, perhaps he will still end up playing for New Orleans.

Let’s round up a few more items from the NFC:

  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details (via Twitter) the $500K in incentives (all tied to receptions) that were built in to Bryant’s contract with the Saints, which is obviously a moot point now. Earlier today, Schefter reported that the Saints are expected to pursue Brandon Marshall now that Bryant is on IR.
  • Rapoport writes that, when the Seahawks are sold to a new owner, the beneficiary of the transaction will be the Paul G. Allen Foundation, which consolidated the causes of recently-deceased owner Paul Allen. That means that the proceeds of the sale — which could exceed $2.5 billion — will be going to charity. As of now, Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, has taken more of a visible role in team operations, but the club is still expected to be sold (though it will remain in Seattle). Potential buyers are already preparing for the Seahawks to hit the market.
  • Pete Dougherty of PackersNews.com confirms what we have been hearing for some time: that something is off in the relationship between Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy, which could lead to McCarthy’s ouster at the end of the season. McCarthy is widely perceived to be on the hot seat, though Dougherty points out that team president/CEO Mark Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and has final say over all football matters. However, Murphy will give a great deal of credence to the opinion of new GM Brian Gutekunst when it comes to the head coach’s future with the club.
  • We learned that top decision-makers for the Giants were in attendance at the Oregon-Utah game yesterday to scout Oregon QB Justin Herbert, even though Herbert is unlikely to enter the 2019 draft. Greg Joyce of the New York Post confirms that GM Dave Gettleman was one of the attendees, along with assistant GM Kevin Abrams and West Coast scout Jeremy Breit. If Herbert changes his mind and declares for the draft, New York will certainly be in play for him.
  • We learned earlier today that the Cowboys nearly fired OC Scott Linehan during last month’s bye.

Saints Place Dez Bryant On IR

The bad news coming out of New Orleans on Friday turned out to be true. Dez Bryant did tear an Achilles’ tendon, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Bryant’s rehab timeline is tentatively set at eight months, per Schefter.

The Saints are placing their recently acquired wide receiver on IR, per Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). They will end up promoting a wideout from their practice squad, with Underhill tweeting Keith Kirkwood will make the move up to the 53-man roster. This move was expected prior to Bryant’s injury, per Underhill (on Twitter).

New Orleans previously housed only three healthy wideouts — Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith and Austin Carr. Bryant, who was a member of this healthy contingent for less than two days, joins Ted Ginn, Tommylee Lewis and Cameron Meredith on the Saints’ IR list. Although, Lewis has resumed practicing and could be activated soon.

This development, interestingly, shouldn’t affect the Saints too much, which is rare for a sequence featuring a high-profile player going down. They’ve won seven straight games and were betting Bryant could provide a boost of some sort. But the Saints have a top-10 offense that will take the field in Cincinnati featuring the same cast that spearheaded a 45-35 win over the Rams last week.

Bryant’s trajectory, obviously, has been significantly altered after going down on the final play of his second Saints practice.

Instead of going into free agency on the heels of being a cog in a Drew Brees-led passing attack, he’ll have a months-long rehab effort to complete before being ready to contribute again. He won’t be ready by the time the new league year begins and may have to wait deep into the 2019 offseason to sign.

Bryant’s most recent work sample, a 16-game season with the 2017 Cowboys, featured his fewest yards per game (52.4) since his rookie season. This injury certainly won’t have teams aggressively pursuing him. It’s a brutal blow for a player who spent months as an outspoken free agent and one who hoped to have a better shot at cashing in next year.

Kirkwood has yet to play an NFL down. He played at Hawaii and Temple from 2013-17, finishing his career with back-to-back 600-yard receiving seasons, totaling 11 aerial touchdowns in those years.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Dez, Buccaneers, Conklin

Friday’s top news thus far affected Dez Bryant. The veteran wide receiver and Saints employee for barely a day is feared to have torn one of his Achilles’ tendons. This would put him out for the season and impact his free agency. This reality appears to be in motion. The Saints are “pretty sure he tore it,” Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. While Michael Crabtree did buck the trend of Achilles injuries taking up to a year and more to recover from when he came back in six months to join the 2013 49ers late that season, Bryant is now 30 and was already dealing with damaged stock based on his recent work. Bryant doesn’t appear to be considering retirement and sounds ready to go through a rehab process (Twitter link). It’s possible Bryant could have to accept another one-year deal in the event he recovers from this injury, and that contract may not arrive until he recovers. He may well be back in a similar situation he was this year, when the Cowboys irked him by releasing him well after potential free agency suitors had spent on wideouts.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Jack Conklin won’t be available for the Titans on Sunday. The third-year right tackle has not cleared concussion protocol and has been downgraded to out for Tennessee’s game against the Patriots. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly will start on the right side, Turron Davenport of ESPN.com notes.
  • The Buccaneers won’t have Vinny Curry in uniform against the Redskins. The first-year Bucs defensive end is out because of an ankle injury that prevented him from practicing all week. Carl Nassib started opposite Jason Pierre-Paul when Curry was previously out, in Weeks 7-8, and figures to do so again. Nassib’s three sacks are second on the Bucs, though well behind JPP’s eight.
  • Speaking of the Bucs, they could create an immense amount of cap space this offseason while not incurring much dead money to do so. Tampa Bay could create more than $100MM in cap space and incur barely $12MM in dead-money charges, according to Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap, by cutting several veterans. Mentioning Jameis Winston (guaranteed-for-injury fifth-year option of $20.9MM), Curry ($8MM savings, no dead money), DeSean Jackson ($10MM savings, no dead money) and Gerald McCoy ($13MM, no dead money), Fitzgerald sees a path for Tampa Bay to move into better spending position. Of course, some of these players — almost certainly McCoy — will still be around to help the Bucs, the organization’s lack of signing bonuses increases its flexibility. As of now, the Bucs are projected to hold just $10MM in cap room next year.

Saints Fear Achilles Tear For Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant was helped off the Saints’ practice field Friday. The team fears the ninth-year wide receiver suffered a torn Achilles, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report on Twitter.

Bryant is getting an MRI now, and Rapoport and Pelissero report he will seek a second opinion after that scan is complete. This would be a brutal turn of events for a player who spent months in free agency and one who hoped to land an impact deal next year.

This injury occurred when Bryant was running a routine route, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets. It is believed to have taken place on the final play of New Orleans’ practice, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter). It was indeed a non-contact play, veteran reporter Ed Werder tweets.

While the Saints’ injury report lists Bryant as questionable with an ankle malady, that designation could soon change.

The recently acquired wideout was not supposed to be ready to play in the Saints’ Week 10 game against the Bengals, Pelissero notes (via Twitter). The longtime Cowboy was in the process of acclimating to a new system and presumably would’ve been ready to play in Week 11. While the Saints’ machine figures to hum along as it has for years, this may be a late-career-defining setback — if, in fact, Bryant has actually torn one of his Achilles’ tendons — for the receiver.

The Saints ended Bryant’s free agency stay by choosing him over fellow Tuesday-workout participants Brandon Marshall and Kamar Aiken. The former impressed the Saints, per Schefter (on Twitter), and could well be an option if Dez ultimately has severely damaged an Achilles. New Orleans placed Cameron Meredith on IR this week, and if its new acquisition can’t go, only has three healthy receivers on its roster. Meredith followed Saints wideouts Tommylee Lewis and Ted Ginn to IR, though Lewis has since resumed practicing and could be activated soon.

Dez turned down offers from the Ravens — a three-year, $21MM pact — and Browns (worth less than $5MM). He landed a $1.25MM deal with the Saints that contained incentives. Achilles tears represent one of the toughest injuries to overcome, and given the timing of this, Bryant’s rehab would take him into the free agency period. It would undoubtedly affect his market, particularly after the former All-Pro showed signs of decline during his final years in Dallas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.