Friday, April 13, 2018

Cowboys release Dez Bryant

Widely-expected but now official, the Dallas Cowboys released wide receiver Dez Bryant on Friday.

A once-dominant receiver (especially in the red zone), no player had caught more touchdowns (41) than Bryant over the three-year span from 2012 to 2014. During that stretch, Bryant finished with a minimum of 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns each season.

The on-field chemistry that he shared with Tony Romo never developed with Dak Prescott.

Exceeding 75 yards only once (98, Week 4) last season, Bryant finished the year with 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns. Based on his production, Bryant wasn't worth his $16.5 million cap hit.

His release saves the Cowboys $8.5 in cap space, but the roster lacks playmakers in the passing game.

While they added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency, neither is more than a complementary player. The other top receivers on the roster include Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown.

In addition to a mediocre (at best) receiving corps (without Dez), the Cowboys have one of the all-time greats at tight end, but Jason Witten (turns 36 next month) is near the very end, perhaps final year, of his career. Averaging a career-low 8.9 Y/A last season, Witten is a reliable but non-threatening target over the middle.

Given the dearth of pass-catchers on the roster, the Cowboys may feel forced to draft a receiver with the 19th pick even though there may not be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver in this year's draft class. In my latest 2018 NFL mock draft, I have the Cowboys going defense (Leighton Vander Esch) in Round 1 but drafting tight end Mike Gesicki in Round 2.