Dez Bryant (2010-2017)
The most recent Dallas Cowboy to wear the reputable number 88 was the amazing Dez Bryant. While some question his character, none can question how good of a wide receiver he was.
The 2010 first-round pick entered the league with high expectations. His rookie season consisted of 45 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns. This was in 12 games with a limited role on the team.
What helped him stand out was not only his work as a wide receiver but also as a returner. On 12 kickoff returns, Dez averaged 24.4 yards per return. As a punt returner, he averaged 14.3 yards on 15 returns, with two returned two for touchdowns.
Year two saw a nice jump up in usage as well as production. Dez caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. In only his second year while missing one game and not starting two games, Bryant just missed the 1,000 yards 10 touchdown plateau.
The best years of his career were from 2012 to 2014. In these three seasons, he made two Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro once, and he eclipsed 1,200+ yards and 12+ touchdowns in all three seasons.
The highest point in Dez Bryant’s career was the 2014 season that saw him as the first-team All-Pro and leading the league in receiving touchdowns with 16. It was at this point in his career that he was unstoppable and in the conversation of possibly being the best wide receiver in the league.
After such an unbelievable 2014 season, Dez had a very disappointing 2015 season, albeit injury problems. It was from here that injuries would hinder a career that had been reaching its peak.
In a low nine games, Dez caught 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Because of the injuries, everyone was optimistic that he would come back in 2016 healthier and better.
Yet again in 2016 like the season prior, Bryant would suffer a lower-body injury early in the season. He finished the season well with 50 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns. The strong finish and Pro Bowl nod meant more optimism, but concern began to linger.
In the last season in a Cowboys uniform, Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. It was at this point where owner Jerry Jones felt that Dez’s career was going to continue the decline, and cut him that offseason.
In a short stint with the New Orleans Saints, Dez tried to revive his career. Two days after signing a one-year contract, Bryant tore his Achilles in practice.
To this day, he is trying to get back into the NFL, but for reasons shown in the next slide, any possible return won’t happen with the Cowboys. Regardless, he holds the franchise record for receiving touchdowns as a Cowboy.
While I doubt he would even be considered for the Hall of Fame, I wonder how things could have gone if it wasn’t for the injuries. Dez was only 27 when injuries began plaguing his career.