By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Nothing gets the people going quite like a big-name wide receiver being available, and — would you look at that? Dez Bryant was just released by the Cowboys.
The 29-year-old receiver had his much-anticipated meeting with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Friday, and it did not last long. Bryant was informed that he was being released.
Bryant is now free to sign with any team that wants him, and it’s possibly — even likely — that he’ll command quite a few dollars. Given all the money that’s been thrown at wide receivers this offseason, there just might be some left over for Bryant.
And with this being New England — where some folks were calling for Terrell Owens to be brought in up until a couple of years ago, when it switched to Calvin Johnson — everyone will obviously ponder the possibility of Bill Belichick perhaps adding the dynamic receiver to the mix to help make Tom Brady’s offense even more unstoppable.
That may be a long shot, but Belichick has a tendency to surprise people from time to time.
Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns last year, a follow-up from his 50-catch, 796-yard, eight-touchdown campaign a year earlier. In his eight-year career, he’s caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns. In three career playoff games, he’s caught 15 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns (though unofficially with the new rule change, you can add one more catch and another 30 or so yards to his totals).
The Patriots traded away their best outside receiver in Brandin Cooks this offseason, and they presumably have somewhat of a “need” there. But, with a Josh McDaniels/Brady offense, there’s not usually a “need” for specific spots. With Rob Gronkowski redefining the tight end position, with Julian Edelman being impossible to cover in the slot and outside, with Jordan Matthews now involved in the slot, and with Chris Hogan occasionally being invisible to opposing defenses, the Patriots are pretty well-stocked in terms of pass catchers. And that’s without considering possible contributions from Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson, or Kenny Britt.
Would Belichick take a flyer on a player like Bryant? Absolutely. No coach in his right mind would outright reject a 6-foot-2, 225-pound receiver with the skills and resume of Bryant. But it seems as though the only way Bryant would end up in Foxboro would be if he decides he doesn’t want to maximize his value.
After all, Bryant was just released because he was due to count for $16.5 million against the cap in 2018. That’s far too much … but another team out there might be willing to give him a salary that’s not too far below what he was due to make. The Patriots almost certainly would never be that team.
So, would the Patriots welcome in a player like Bryant at this stage of his career to work with Tom Brady and chase a championship? Of course. But if that were to happen, it would probably have to be Bryant’s decision to pass on taking more money elsewhere. Considering their brief chance to cash in as professional football players, that’s a decision that not many athletes can make.