An era has ended today in Dallas as the Cowboys have released their former star wide receiver, Dez Bryant. Drafted in 2010 by America’s team, Dez has spent his entire career in Dallas where he became one of the leagues elite wide receivers. Throughout his eight seasons with the Cowboys, Bryant scored 73 touchdowns, had 7,459 receiving and averaged 14 yards per catch. The soon to be 30-year-old might be the most reliable receiver on the market at the moment putting him in the cross-hairs of several NFL teams looking to strengthen their receiving core. Here are my top 5 teams Bryant will sign with.
New York Jets
With just over $23 million in cap space, the Jets have plenty of capital to bring in a big named player. So far this offseason, they have added quarterback turned wide receiver Terrelle Pryor to their receiving core. He joins Jermaine Kearse, Quincy Enunwa, and Robby Anderson, a potentially young, explosive wide receiver core. They also re-signed Josh McCown and signed Teddy Bridgewater to a one year contract, giving them two viable options at quarterback. The Jets would be able to offer Bryant almost whatever he wanted salary wise to bring him in, as well as making him the top receiver immediately.
With the third pick in this years draft, the Jets could use their pick to shore up their offensive line needs, or more likely draft a quarterback, and bring in Bryant through free agency allowing them to spend their money on the veteran while getting quality linemen on rookie contract prices. The only thing the Jets couldn’t offer Bryant is a shot at the postseason. The Jets lack in so many areas that it should be a few seasons before Gang Green see any post-season success.
Fresh off of signing Sam Bradford on to be their new starting quarterback, the Cardinals are looking to give him some targets other than veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Behind Fitzgerald, Arizona’s depth at receiver is pretty thin, making Bryant a viable option. With a duo of Fitzgerald and Bryant, the Cardinals could make the case that they would have the best receiving pair in the league, and with nearly $20 million in cap space, they could afford him. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, after their release of Tyrann Mathieu, they need serious help at the cornerback and safety positions. Signing Bryant could leave them without enough money to pursue effective playmakers on the other side of the ball. For this to work for the Cardinals, they’d have to have a stellar draft.
New England Patriots
What’s that? A possibly elite veteran wide receiver has been released? Well, Bill Belichick must feel a disturbance in the force because this pick is right in his wheelhouse. Seeing the Patriots go after Bryant shouldn’t surprise anyone. The picked up Randy Moss nine seasons into his career, and he ended up setting the record for most touchdowns scored in a season by any wide receiver. But that was Moss, and this is Bryant.
Even though the Patriots released Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, Brady still has Gronk, Edelman and Jordan Mathews to throw too. Yet even with their current strength at receiver, it wouldn’t be unlike them for the Patriots to go and sign Bryant. I wouldn’t expect Bryant to sign the biggest contract with them, but the probability of competing in the next super bowl is sure to swing in their favor.
San Fransisco 49ers
Man, wouldn’t this move annoy Cowboys fans? With the addition of Jimmy “Brady 2.0” Garappolo at quarterback last season, the 49ers future looks very bright. They made a great move in signing Jerrick McKinnon after he was released by the Vikings to bolster their run game and now should look to support their air attack. Garappolo has already shown us what he can do with reasonably unknown receivers, winning all four games he started with the 49ers last season.
With their depth at receiver looking about as thin as paper, signing Bryant would be a huge move. The addition of the former Cowboy would add a much needed veteran presence to a fairly young receiving group, and with $47 million in cap space, they could afford him without a doubt. In an ideal situation, they would sign Bryant and draft a promising rookie wide receiver in the draft, say D.J. Moore should he still be available in the second or third round, to grow and develop with Garappolo.
If they play this right, it should also leave them space to add to their fairly weak pass rushers. If I have to pick one team, this is where I’d like to see him go.
Green Bay Packers
This, I very much would not like to see, but it makes sense. With the departure of WR Jordy Nelson and TE Richard Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers could use a decent set of hands to throw to other than Devante Adams. Randall Cobb remains with the team, but his stock has declined these last few years with subpar play. Other than Cobb and Adams, Rodgers doesn’t have much to look forward to in his receiving core, especially after Trevor Davis’ incident. With limited cap space and lack of strength and depth elsewhere on the team, this seems like it would be a long shot for Bryant. Though, seeing Rodgers throw it up to Bryant would be a pretty cool sight.
With plenty of time left in the offseason, Bryant has plenty of time to figure out where he wants to go. If I were to choose a sleeper pick, I’d say the Baltimore Ravens. They have the least cap space of all the teams I mentioned but need him almost more than any of them. Who knows, maybe he’ll stay in his own division.