Dallas Cowboys & Dez Bryant: Roller coaster ride ends
By Jason Crouch
Well, I have to give Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones credit. The man knows how to keep things interesting, even in the offseason.
We have all known for years that Jones is a consummate showman, and he never seems to shy away from media attention. He is sometimes like a modern-day P.T. Barnum, hosting the “Greatest Show on Earth”.
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Over the past few weeks, we fans have held our collective breath, wondering if star wide receiver Dez Bryant would get a long-term deal in place. The deadline for them to agree and sign was yesterday at 3pm.
Thankfully, Bryant signed a new deal roughly an hour before that. He got a five-year, $70 million contract, with $45 million in “guaranteed” money. Bryant gets $23 million this season, and another $22 million if he is still on the roster in March 2016.
And now we can all exhale.
The buildup to the announcement received maximum exposure. I don’t remember watching for sporting news with this much anticipation since, well, since Dez caught his last pass in the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers, only to have it overturned on review.
My weekly deadline for submitting posts for The Landry Hat is every Wednesday at midnight, so I knew that a decision for Bryant would likely be reached on the same day, whether good or bad. As late as yesterday at lunch, I was forced to consider writing about the worst-case scenarios.
What if Dez didn’t sign?
What if he missed games?
Could it affect their postseason chances next season?
Headlines like “Life Without Dez”, or “Moving On Without Dez” were in the back of my mind.
This felt a little bit like losing a friend, or maybe breaking up with a girlfriend. You start to tell yourself things will be okay, even though it may be tough for awhile.
We’ll rebuild..somehow. Maybe we didn’t need him after all. It’s too much drama.
Wrong. This guy is undoubtedly one of the most talented receivers in the league. He has size, strength, and speed, and the ability to go up and catch passes against the best defenders in the NFL. He is an absolute difference maker on offense.
Bryant led the league in touchdown catches last season, with 16. He has more touchdowns (41) than any other wide receiver since 2012. Needless to say, it would be tough to simply plug in any other receiver and expect this type of production.
He is always a threat when he’s on the field, and defenses are forced to account for him.
I had to agree with another difference maker who weighed in on this topic. Legendary former wide receiver Michael Irvin said the Cowboys would be 8-8 at best without Bryant. Speaking to the Rich Eisen Show, Irvin had this to say:
"“Who really has the leverage here? You think you’re going on that football field without Dez Bryant? I was reading the articles today buddy. I was reading about how great Terrance Williams is doing. All that stuff is for Dez to read. It’s easy to do great in minicamp.But if you think you see better than 8-8 without Dez Bryant, I’m telling you, you will not see better than 8-8 without 88.”"
Having already lost their starting running back, DeMarco Murray, to the Philadelphia Eagles back in March, most analysts and fans agreed that they needed to retain Bryant’s services to remain a sincere Super Bowl threat.
In fact, most felt that Jones wasn’t willing to spend the money to compete to keep Murray specifically so that Bryant’s deal could happen.
This guy is undoubtedly one of the most talented receivers in the league. He has size, strength, and speed, and the ability to go up and catch passes against the best defenders in the NFL.
Jones and the Cowboys organization had used the franchise tag on Bryant, meaning that he was not available to negotiate with other teams, so that particular concern was not on the table.
Until the past day or two, he was faced with playing under the tag for a year, or not playing at all.
Needless to say, there is a lot of happiness in Dallas today, and a lot of relief for those of us who faithfully support this team.
Thankfully, all of the negative thoughts are in the rear view mirror now. Dez is safe and sound in a Cowboys uniform for the next few years.
All is well, or so it seems. I am anxious and excited to see what the next season holds, particularly with quarterback Tony Romo at full strength and both Romo and Bryant at training camp, which starts in just two weeks. Speaking of which, Romo might just be more relieved than any of us, since this contract for Bryant gives him a real shot at a championship this next year.
In the aftermath of signing his lucrative deal, Bryant tweeted,
“God is real…#cowboysnation stand up…#throwupthex”.
As a lifelong fan, I could not agree more.
Next: Dez Bryant: Twitter explodes with reactions following contract signing