Dez Bryant wore the hallowed number 88 in Dallas – a jersey previously worn by the franchise’s legendary wide receivers Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin. Then Bryant set a franchise record with 73 touchdown receptions in his eight seasons.
But there would not be a ninth season. Despite the fact he still had youth on his side at 29 years of age, the Cowboys released Bryant this offseason. He signed a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015 but did not manage 1,000 yards or 10-plus touchdowns in any of the three seasons since agreeing to his new deal. The Cowboys were not getting the expected bang for their bucks, so Bryant became a salary-cap casualty.
A three-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL with 16 touchdowns catches in 2014, Bryant is now looking for a new employer. Where will he end up?
That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll – where will Dez Bryant play his football in 2018? Here are what we consider his best options:
Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens finished 29th in the NFL in passing in 2017. Baltimore’s leading wide receiver last season was Mike Wallace with 52 catches for 748 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns – and Wallace has already moved on to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles for the 2018 season. The Ravens have signed Michael Crabtree in free agency.
Buffalo Bills. The Bills finished 31st in the NFL in passing in 2017. Buffalo’s leading wide receiver last season was Kelvin Benjamin with 48 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns – but only 16 of those came over the final six games after his acquisition in trade by the Bills from Carolina. Andre Holmes led the Bills with three TD receptions last season.
Green Bay Packers. The Packers finished 25th in the NFL in receiving in 2017 and released starting wide receiver Jordy Nelson this offseason. Green Bay has a Pro Bowl wide receiver in DaVante Adams, who caught 74 passes for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns. Dez going back to Green Bay to play – the site of the Catch/No catch from the 2014 playoffs? An intriguing possibility.
Houston Texans. The Texans finished 21st in the NFL in passing in 2017 and already have a Pro Bowl wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 96 passes for 1,378 yards and 13 touchdowns. Hopkins also tweeted an invitation to Bryant to come join him in Houston. A move to Houston would keep Bryant in his home state of Texas.
New Orleans Saints. The Saints finished fifth in the NFL in passing in 2017. The Saints already have one Pro Bowl wideout in Michael Thomas, who caught 104 passes for 1,245 yards and five touchdowns. Saints coach Sean Payton is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL with one of the most creative schemes that can maximize multiple receivers.
San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers finished ninth in the NFL in passing in 2017. San Francisco’s leading wide receiver last season was Marquise Goodwin with 56 catches for 962 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Garrett Celek led the 49ers with four receiving touchdowns. The 49ers did drafted Washington’s Dante Pettis in the second round last month.