The New England Patriots invest heavily in their quarterback and offensive line, but did not extend star receivers such as Randy Moss and Wes Welker. The Green Bay Packers made quarterback Aaron Rodgers the highest paid player in the league, but let premium wideout Greg Jennings sign with the Minnesota Vikings. The Pittsburg Steelers paid quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and watched their No. 1 receiving threat Mike Wallace sign with Miami.
The Chicago Bears invested in both quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and missed the playoffs last year with one of the worst defenses in the league. The Detroit Lions invested heavily in quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and have had one winning record during Stafford’s career.
This dynamic could speak to the ways in which consistently successful GMs manage their cap space. A team has only so much money to spend each year, and it could be that the good teams allocate it by position as opposed to personality. Once they’ve paid a quarterback, successful GMs appear reluctant to pay wideouts. The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks may at first appear to be outliers, but those GMs have so far followed the pattern. San Francisco paid Anquan Boldin and Seattle paid Percy Harvin to be No. 1 receivers, but their quarterbacks are still playing out rookie contracts.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo signed a 6-year, $108 million deal in 2013. He will count over $27 million against the cap in 2015, assuming he’s not restructured again. If the Cowboys front office is looking to emulate perennial contenders like the Patriots, Packers and Steelers, they could be prepared to let Bryant walk.
Next up: Dez Bryant will command Top 5 wide receiver money on the open market.