First off let me say this, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is a great player. In fact, he may be the best the NFL currently has at the position.
Before Bryant, the best wide receivers who cashed in big we’re such guys as the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, Houston Texans’ Andre Johnson, Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson and, talent wise, you can throw in Randy Moss during his New England days too.
So, what do all those great receivers have in common? Well, massive contracts would be one thing. The other is a much smaller number.
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
That’s how many Super Bowl wins these guys sometimes called the greatest receivers in the NFL managed to get for their teams. Since the days of Jerry Rice ruling the league in San Francisco, or Michael Irvin making plays in Dallas, the most well rounded teams win. Not the one paying $15 million plus a year for a wide receiver!
In Seattle, they won the Super Bowl with a high priced receiver in Percy Harvin. However, Harvin missed most of last year and was traded very quickly to the New York Jets because he was such a migraine. (see what I did there?)
Some could also argue that the Arizona Cardinals almost won a title with Fitzgerald. And yes, they did come close against Pittsburgh that one year. They also had Anquan Boldin, another of the top flight receivers of his day. Oh, and let’s not forget they were bad, and I mean awful, until they got quarterback Kurt Warner.
And how big a threat has the team really been to make a run since the loss of Warner? This year? You mean before their quarterback was hurt? See the trend yet?
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Let’s also look at recent receivers to leave their teams and their good quarterbacks. Mike Wallace left Pittsburgh and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He has yet to hit 1,000 yards receiving. Wallace has been solid for Miami, but was a much bigger deep threat in Pittsburgh.
In Green Bay, twice now players have left and seen a dip in production. Greg Jennings went to Minnesota and James Jones went to Oakland. At one point Jennings had three straight one thousand yard seasons. Without quarterback Aaron Rodgers, he barely topped 800 yards one year, and had 740 the next.
James Jones led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions in 2012. In Oakland he was a solid possession guy grabbing 73 passes in 2014. Still, Jones saw his average yards per pass dip all the way down to 9.1. The lowest yards per catch average for Jones while in Green Bay was 12.2.
In no way does any of this mean that Dez leaving Dallas would equal a drop in production. What I am actually saying is an all-pro level quarterback can make the receivers around him better. The Dallas Cowboys have that in quarterback Tony Romo.
Remember in 2011 when the Boys picked up receiver Laurent Robinson. The same Laurent Robinson who had 89 receptions for 1,000 yards and four touchdowns his first four years in the NFL. Then in 2011 after being cut by his third team, the San Diego Chargers, Dallas signs him and he explodes for 54 receptions, 858 yards and 11 touchdowns.
People then were clamoring that Dallas shouldn’t let him go. Robinson got a sizable contract in Jacksonville and never caught another touchdown pass. He is out of the league now.
Romo made Robinson look like an all-pro because Dez hadn’t become the star he is today yet, and the other receiver Miles Austin, was on a steep decline. As long as Dallas has Tony Romo, they will have offense. Signing Dez to a massive deal may result in huge numbers, but history shows those numbers don’t always end up in big wins.
In fact, recent history shows those huge numbers to receivers never end up in big wins. Instead it has been the “no name” receivers.
Seattle won one Super Bowl and was inches from a second without having even one star at the position. Most of their receivers are relatively unknown, which may actually help the team. Wilson never has to force feed the ball to one guy.
New England did win the super bowl with Julian Edelman and Carolina cast off Brandon LaFell as the top receivers. No star power there, except at tight end with Rob Gronkowski, but he isn’t earning even an average of $10 million per season.
Another thing to notice is how the whole “Dez caught it” phenomenon may not have happened without a star receiver. Slot receiver Cole Beasley was wide open on the same route, but quarterback Tony Romo never looked away from the star player.
So again, while I love Dez as a player, I can’t help but be torn in this whole contract dispute. Huge contracts have rarely played out well for Dallas and the lack of wins for big money receivers gives me even more pause. I am just glad I am not the one who has to make the final call on this one.