The Cowboys dominated the Friday NFL news cycle by releasing Dez Bryant and doing so without offering the acclaimed wide receiver a chance to stay with the team at a reduced rate. That move may have been amendable to Bryant, despite the receiver’s previous comments not appearing to indicate as such.
A first-time free agent, Bryant said in an interview with the NFL Network’s Jane Slater (Twitter link) he would have accepted a pay cut if the Cowboys offered. Dallas did not offer to keep Bryant on a lesser salary. The 29-year-old wideout expected the team to propose a pay cut. While it’s unclear how much of a salary reduction Bryant would have accepted, the Cowboys weren’t interested and made the odd decision to release their all-time leader in touchdown receptions more than a month into free agency.
As part of the five-year, $70MM extension he signed just before the 2015 franchise tag deadline, Bryant was scheduled to make $12.5MM in base salary and comprise $16.5MM of Dallas’ cap this season.
The juncture of this cut came largely because Jerry Jones has long had an affinity for the mercurial pass-catcher, and it took convincing for the team’s top decision-maker to sign off on a release, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).
“Jerry Jones, he loved me to death, and I loved him too,” Bryant told Slater. “I honestly believe in my heart that this was a hard decision for him. But when it’s five, six guys at a table against one guy, you got to do it.”
Bryant is not making it a secret he’d like to join one of the Cowboys’ top rivals, but ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reports (on Twitter) a landing in Philadelphia, Washington or New York does not look especially promising at the moment. The Redskins are not believed to be interested in the ninth-year player.
“Being in the division is a huge possibility it’s something that I want,” Bryant said in the interview (Twitter link). “It’s personal. I’m tired of being the scapegoat and I’m going to keep proving that on and off the field.”
It will obviously be more difficult for Bryant to command the type of money he could have had the Cowboys made this move a month ago, but he’s likely to generate some interest soon.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.