The reasoning behind bringing Dez Bryant back in 2018

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Dez Bryant /

One of the biggest headlines heading into the 2018 offseason is the future of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant; but why all the drama?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is currently slated to count $16.5 million against the salary cap going into the 2018 season. That currently sits as the second highest cap hit against the Cowboys with left tackle Tyron Smith accounting for the highest salary cap hit at $17.5 million. With Bryant coming off a season that saw him produce only 69 receptions for 838 yards and only six touchdowns, many are asking if he is worth the investment.

While fans are certainly justified to question Bryant for his drop in production from the success he saw in 2012-2014, there are many layers to this puzzle that lay deeper than just his current salary cap number for the 2018 season.

While many fans get caught up in the $16.5 million overall cap hit, and justly so, there are many ways to maneuver around that number. Dez has been adamant saying that he will not be accepting a pay cut going as far as to say, ” Probably not. Hell no, man. I believe in me.”

Lets start with one thing: Dez is not being released and will be returning next season; pay cut or not put aside. Schematically, releasing Bryant does nothing for the Cowboys. The Cowboys do not currently possess a number one receiving option, regardless of whether or not you believe Dez is a number one receiving option.

Per’s Mike Fisher, contractually there are ways to move around the $16.5 million cap number for 2018. The Cowboys possess the ability to shift Dez’s base salary of $12.5 million into restructure bonus which they could spread over the remaining length of the deal which would lower his cap number in hind-site.

There is also the option of turning the remainder of Bryant’s contract into an incentive laden deal where if he could exceed his numbers from last year, they could divide up the remaining bonus into statistical milestones exceeding last year essentially guaranteeing he still receives the remaining bonus money left on his contract as long as he can outproduce his mediocre season last year.

Next comes the idea of the money they would save if they were to release Bryant which would equal $8.5 million if it were a pre-June 1st cut and $12.5 million if it were a post-June 1st cut; essentially dividing the dead money of $8 million into two seasons instead of eating it all at once. Majority of the Cowboys $18 million in cap space will already be accounted for in the re-signing of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and guard Zack Martin.

Martin is expected to become the highest paid guard in the league which would exceed the $12 million per year currently being given to Cleveland’s Kevin Zeitler. And while the Cowboys are widely believed to franchise tag defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, that number will be $17.6 million in 2018.

While I understand the frustration from Bryant’s decline in the last couple years, it does not make sense from both a salary cap and schematic perspective. Not only are there ways to maneuver Bryant’s, but the lack of replacements for the same price are drastically lacking.

Next: All-Time Best Dallas Cowboys By Position – Offense

As for potential rookies in the upcoming draft, there are no guarantees that any rookie coming in will put up the same/better production than Bryant. The bottom line is Bryant will be back in 2018 in what will certainly be a big year in determining the future of the Cowboys star receiver.