What are Dez Bryant’s chances of landing with the New England Patriots? In this reporter’s mind, not high.
The Dallas Cowboys on Friday released Bryant, choosing to cut ties with the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver rather than dedicate $16.5 million of their salary cap space to him.
After posting sub-standard receiving numbers in each of the last three seasons and averaging a career-low 12.1 yards per catch in 2017, Bryant, who was set to make $12.5 million in salary this season, no longer deserves to be paid like one of the NFL’s elite wideouts.
He’s far from a bum, though. Even the diminished version of Bryant we saw last season still managed to catch 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns — leading the Cowboys in all three categories — and he won’t turn 30 until November. He might never again be the 1,200-yard receiver he was from 2012 to 2014, but he still can be an above-average offensive weapon.
It’s not hard to envision Bryant joining the Patriots, teaming up with Tom Brady and enjoying a Randy Moss-esque late-career renaissance. He’d replace Brandin Cooks as the team’s primary outside threat, and at his best, he’s better than any wideout on New England’s roster.
Patriots linebacker Marquis Flowers began recruiting Bryant almost immediately after news of his release broke.
Do the Patriots have a need at receiver? Not really. The competition in training camp will be intense enough as it is with Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron and Cody Hollister all fighting for reps and roster spots behind Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. But if you have an opportunity to add a player of Bryant’s caliber to that mix, at the right price, you do it.
And therein lies the problem: Bryant is likely to command more in free agency than the Patriots would be willing to pay. He would need to be willing to take a major pay cut in order for New England to be a legitimate option, and he’d almost certainly receive more lucrative offers from other clubs.
Would Bryant take $4 million per year from the Patriots when the Washington Redskins or Philadelphia Eagles are offering $7 million or $8 million? Possibly, but not likely.
Plus, Bryant seems more interested in seeking revenge on the Cowboys than catching the Brady wave.
Best guess: Bryant stays in the NFC East, the Patriots move forward with their deep crew of affordable wideouts.