Dez Bryant: How Much is he Really Worth?

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Outside of the injury to Dallas Cowboys franchise QB Tony Romo’s back, the biggest storyline has been Dez Bryant getting signed to a long term deal.

dez bryant

The original 88, Drew Pearson, raised some concerns that any NFL GM would have to take in to consideration before getting out the checkbook: then there is the concerns about his off field issues as well. Ironically, what Pearson said on 105.3 the fan, was on point with concerns I had previously voiced.

 Dez Bryant needs to step up his game. He only runs three routes: hitches, slants and go-routes. Pearson said.

As a fan, I love the emotion, determination and physicality Dez Bryant brings to the game. However, as an analyst, I have to put my love for Dez Bryant aside and look at things as objectively as possible. I have to put myself in the shoes of a GM who is considering him for my football team. In doing so I have to make two lists, one being the pros, the other the cons. In doing so I am forced to ask some tough questions.

How does Dez Bryant compare to the other wide receivers on the market?

wes welkerThere is some pretty stiff competition out there. Among the best available are Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Jeremy Maclin, Reggie Wayne and Michael Crabtree. There are about 50 prospects to choose from; I just listed some of the top names.  You can see the complete list including their salaries and contract info by clicking Here.  The highest paid available free agent on the current market is Wes Welker, who is set to earn $7,647,059 in 2014. That’s about $4 million less than the minimum many expect Dez Bryant to get paid. Calvin Johnson, who is arguably the best WR in the NFL, signed a contract for 7 yr(s) / $113,450,000, with $48,750,000 in guaranteed money. That translates to an average salary of $16,207,143 .

Anyone who uses that as a gauge for determining a salary for Dez Bryant needs to take a step back and look at the facts. The only time you see Megatrons name in the paper is for leading the NFL as a WR. Dez Bryant has never completed a season among the top 5. However, his name has been in the paper quite a bit. According to Ian Rapport, Dez Bryant has had the police at his home six times: not counting his other issues to include lawsuits,  run-ins with police at night clubs, mall security issues and allegedly assaulting his mother. It’s only a matter of time before Dez Bryant ends up in jail. I have to ask myself: what type of person has a child not only left unattended, but locked inside a car in his driveway?

Over the last 4 seasons, Calvin Johnson amassed 6,257 yards, (an avg of 1,564 per season), 45 TD’s and averaged 16.48 yards per catch on 377 receptions. Dez Bryant amassed 4,104 yards, (an avg of 1,026 per season), 40 TD’s and averaged 13.875 yards per catch on 299 receptions. As you can see, there is quite a difference in the numbers. Especially when you consider that Tony Romo is a much more accurate QB than Matthew Stafford.

Top 5 NFL wide receivers as of Nov 10, 2014
Top 5 NFL wide receivers as of Nov 10, 2014

 demaryius thomas If I had to choose the player who would be Dez Bryant’s biggest competition in free agency, it would be Demaryius Thomas who is currently 2nd in the NFL. In 9 starts he has amassed 65 receptions for 1,002 yards (15.4 ypc avg) and 6 TDs  for an average of 7.2 catches per game as compared to Dez Bryant, who has amassed 56 receptions for 793 yards (14.2 ypc avg) and 8 TDs in 10 starts for an avg of 5.6 catches per game. When I consider the way Peyton Manning spreads the ball around to all five eligibles and Bryant gets a majority of the targets in Dallas, I have to stop and ask myself why every time I turn on the television there is talk about Dez Bryant getting a contract and no mention of Thomas who is #2 in the NFL (with one less start) and Bryant is 8th? Last year Thomas not only had more yards than Bryant, he had more TDs as well.

Jeremy Maclin, who is also among Bryant’s competition in free agency is currently 9th. However, he has amassed 45 receptions for 790 yards (17.6 ypc avg) and 8 TDs in only 8 starts for an average of 5.6 receptions per game. There is not much difference in the numbers with 2 less starts. Again I have to ask the question: how much is Dez Bryant really worth?

We all know what an impact Wes Welker has made in this league. He was Tom Brady’s most reliable receiver and has made his mark in the NFL. When I look at his ability as a route runner, his character, his football IQ and proven track record in the NFL without any off the field issues: I have to ask why would I want to pay Dez Bryant $4 million a year more? Thomas doesn’t have the baggage, has had better production with less targets, and runs a larger variety of routes. Maclin is also showing better production without the off field issues. None of the current top 5 receivers in the NFL are making anywhere near the money Dez Bryant is expecting to be paid. The Cowboys currently have two contracts in excess of $100 million going to Tony Romo and Tyron Smith. Neither of them has ever had an off field issue. Sean Lee was recently given a sizable contract and Jason Witten is well paid for a TE. What was Dez Bryant able to do when Tony Romo wasn’t throwing to him? As a GM I personally am not going to hand over $100 million dollars to a WR who has never completed a season as a top 5 WR and is one run in with the law away from jail time.

The fan in me is screaming I Want Dez Bryant! The analyst in me is saying he is not worth any more than $7 million a year. Every year there are prolific wide receivers in the draft. Terrance Williams is already a better route runner, so is Cole Beasley. DeMarco Murray has proven to be more help to this team and Dwayne Harris is an instrumental special teams player. Beasley, Harris and Murray are also going to be free agents. The GM in me wont allow me to be unable to resign those 3 important role players because I broke the bank for Dez Bryant.

dez bryant and jason witten
Jason Witten gets in the face of Dez Bryant who was having a temper fit on the sidelines.

Closing argument:

It would cost the Dallas Cowboys $12.3 million to use the Franchise tag on Dez Bryant. A WR is only as good as the QB who is throwing to him. It’s obvious that Brandon Weeden is not the answer. The team not only needs to resign the afore mentioned players, they need a serviceable backup QB. To tag Bryant would cost more than paying 3 1st round WR’s. In fact, for close to the same money, maybe a bit more, I could sign Murray, Beasley, Harris, a 1st round WR and a decent backup QB. At the end of the day, football is a business too, and as an analyst, Dez Bryant is not worth what I would have to sacrifice to give him that huge contract. After all, I have to have enough cap space to pay 52 other players. If Dez Bryant is more about money than the team, he can go to the highest bidder.

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  • Roy N Jasmine Edwards

    Dez already said it aint about the money, he wants to retire a Cowboy regardless! He is not worried about his contract, he will worry about it in the end of the season. He is in the top 5 WR his #s don’t lie!

    As far as I seen, he has cleaned up his act, played more as a team player (meaning he aint bitchin when he dont get fed the rock) and it shows he is still a huge weapon while they double cover Dez that leaves Beasley, Williams, or Murray open to make big plays! And when he is open he makes even bigger plays.. Dez is an animal and he is still young!
    As for his private life (the child in the car) accident happen.. do you or ne one else in the media know that whole story? NO! .. Don’t you think it was more responsible for him to call proper authorites to open the door than to just leave the baby in the car?
    All this negative media shit is all things of the past and he is learning from it, he is showing it every time u see him in an interview..

    Bottom line is………….. Dez Contributes more to the team than what you stated, They will figure out Dez Contract because unlike Austin (always hurt “Hamstring” ) = bench rider .. Dez plays regardless through the pain like Tony and isnt a Softy.. which proves he’s dependable ..

    Idk if you read the article about how they passed up moss years back in the draft due to (it was a gamble becuase of his private life) and Jerry is kicks his self in the ass everytime he thinks about it, so he stated he will not make the same mistake and pass up Dez.. so you tell me?

    If Jerry is willing to make the gamble this time around and so far its paid off, you think he’s goin to just let him go?
    I doubt it vewry seriously….

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Ian Rappaport is a hack and it was proven that he has no ties to the Cowboys organization. The police allegations some did occur but the ones that Rapport said were because Dez called the police himself after someone broke into his house and another time where he was being harassed. Also I find the baby thing a bit fishy. Only Rappaport is reporting this and if it was a real story it would be blown up every where. I never trust that dude when it comes to anything about the team.

    • Lionone1

      Its all a bunch of fluff. They call Dallas a circus and attach negative connotations to the team all the time. But, they are the ones that initiate most of it. Running snide articles based on half a quote and totally out of context. Its hard to find an unbiased news source.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    No one has more TD than Dez in almost a 4 year span, Graham is the only one. That’s his top 5 impact. As for this year, Dez doesn’t have great stats for sure, but we aren’t slinging it around like Manning either. The Broncos have innovation in their play calling we don’t, they run screens, crossing routes, bubbles, end arounds, just about every play in the book, this team rarely uses any of that on any player not just Dez either. Beasley could be used way better, as well as Hanna, but we don’t. Only reason I don’t want Dez is because of money production I see it on the field and in the stat line and I see a top player. Money is the only issue for me.

    • Megatron had 5 more entering this season. TDs only tell part of the story. It’s more about moving the chains. Especially on 3rd down. It’s about being able to run “all ” the routes, read the options and hots, understand protections etc. Not just rely on your athletic ability like Dez does. A good receiver uses his smarts more than his athleticism

    • Jeff Kessinger

      Gab, my point exactly, the play calling and variety, and the fact that it’s so vanilla. If you can find me a time when the Cowboys used a bunch play involving Williams, Dez, and another WR I’d crap my pants. You won’t not in Garretts tenure no matter who’s calling the plays. To vanilla, and no variety. You have to consider that. Dez runs the routes that are called. If it’s said he runs three routes then that’s what’s being called, and it’s disgusting with the talent this team has.

  • californy

    I believe Dez is the product of the player and the talent around him. Dez is no megaton, Meagatron come from a family who stress education over athletics and who stress humility over egotism. Megatron in his early career never even celebrated td like most other wr., that was part of his upbringing he had with his family

  • californy

    I believe the media has build up Dez beyond what his talent really is. As Good as Dez is he can be taken out of game by some of the lesser name defensive backs. Dez when he get frustrated loses his focus and then begin to drop way to easy of passes he is capable of catching. I listen to people talk about Dez , and say things like he made took Richard Sherman to school, i dont see what many of the talking head see in Dez. Dez does have good game just not against the elite DB of the league

    • Al

      You made some valid points.

  • californy

    For me the real story is dez vs Murray in terms who get the better contract. Murray in my oppionion is a good rb, in his rookie season he average like 128 yards with a starting Fb leading the way. Right now he is almost 2 to 1 in yardage over Dez. many of the talking head talk about RB being are a dime a dozen, i just dont see that being true. A good player makes their team mates better around him, and this is what Murray brings over Dez. Murray in no way is the team, but he is a bi product of what the team is doing around him. they talk as if Murray is old, he is only 26 years of age, and that is still young in term of rb age, If Murray doesnt make a good salary in the next 4 years he will never make it ever in his career. i say pay the man at Murray, at tag is worth 9.54 million for Murray where a tag for Dez is worth 12.5 million base on this year numbers

    • Al

      The bottom line is: when Murray isn’t being used this team loses. No matter what Dez does, this team only lost 1 game when Murray had more than 20 carries. I watched a 4th rd CB shut down Dez Bryant. The best run defense in the NFL struggled with Murray.

    • Jeff Kessinger

      Look at the RBs that had as many carries that Murray is having this year, and look at what happened the following season. In both cases where the RBs had over 400 carries (that’s where Murray is headed) they fizzled out the following season, and neither played the whole year. I’m tagging Murray if I can’t sign him to a friendly contract. Average contracts for RBs are much smaller than for WRs.

  • californy

    I look at passing number in a different way that most fans. i believe if you want to win games you must show the ability to run the ball.Two years ago 4 top passing teams, The Cowboys, Saints , Detroit and Oakland didn’t even have a winning record or made the play off. Qb for me are the most over rated position in the NFL, and their number are just as inflated as the player.

    The last 2 winning SB teams were won with 2 qb that were nothing more than a system passer.. If you want to win sb you need 53 player and not the one or 2 JJ thinks you need.

  • californy

    i really dont follow the things that happen outside of the football field, i dont care about what a player does outside of the football field as long as it doesn’t interfere what he does on the football field.. At This point the Cowboy have to ask do they trust Dez to be on his best behavior and do they trust him on the football field.. There no gray area here, you either trust him or not.

    • In my opinion a true #1 WR needs to be able to run all the routes, understand protections, read options and hots while being able to keep his cool when facing adversity. Dez does none of the above. He relies on his athleticism.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Murray also blocks and catches the ball, he does more than Dez. I agree there. But also when Dez is on fire no one can stop him. He has beaten really good CB too in Haden and then he stalemated Richard Sherman. He beats good CB, but he can be shut down by lesser talent too.

    • Californy made a good point. Murray has almost double the production of Dez. He also helps keep defense off the field and slows down the blitz: too many times they try to force the ball to Dez and it results in 3 and outs. When they pound Murray on the ground, the team plays better as a whole. Murray is more QB friendly as well. Dez has nowhere near the value Murray does. This team can win without Dez, the facts prove they struggle a lot without Murray.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        And that is true. Only issue is, can Williams be a number 1 if Dez is let go, and two what round are we drafting a WR, because if it’s round 1 we are neglecting defense again. And I guantee you if Dez is let go WR is the first pick.

        • This team could sign a solid d player for a lot less than dez costs

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            And I wouldn’t mind that, I said I only question the cap space he would command not his production. With Dez’s money I can sign Ahtyba Rubin DT, Devin McCourty FS, and a solid RT. I would do that if I could.

          • I think that was the main point Al was trying to make. Is dez worth having to go light at several other positions? In my opinion he isn’t.

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            I don’t think any player needs to make top money regardless of position. But signing Ahtyba Rubin completely improves the run defense by a large margin especially when Lee gets back next year and the draft should also improve that. Signing Devin McCourty would give the Cowboys the first true FS since Woodson which will greatly improve the middle of their defense, and then signing a RT would alleviate the pain of losing Free and allow us to overlook RT this draft. The needs then simply drop to LB, LE, CB, and QB, along with a WR. Then you could always franchise Dez which gives you more picks should someone take the tag, which someone likely is, or you can let Dez go and sign Thomas instead.

          • It costs 12 mil to tag him. There goes signing the players u just mentioned

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            I gave the tag as an alternative, because under the tag it’s what a 1st and 2 2nd round picks right? That could be another route taken.

          • No one will pay that for dez with all of the recs available. Especially when he doesn’t run all the routes.

          • Gabriel Carrasco

            Don’t know about that. I think there are plenty of teams that want Dez plenty.

          • Jeff Kessinger

            I don’t let Free walk. He’s still young enough for a decent contract that wouldn’t hurt the team. He’s only 30, and playing at a high level, but not a level that breaks the bank, and not only that he’s a team player that would IMO sign a team friendly contract, so I would resign Free all day long.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Also not entirely fair either when Weeden is your QB he couldn’t hit Beasley either. Weeden I believe single handidly lost the game against the Cardinals. Oh and pathetic coaching as well.

    • To Als point that the rec is only as good as his QB. The QB doesn’t slow down the RB . Remember what a stud Robinson was with tony throwing to him? When he went to Jax he was awful. I see the same happening to Dez.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        Dez is different than Robinson. The QB does make the WR look at Fitzgerald easily one of the best WR in the game, and he lost Warner and I think he has had only 1 1000 yard season since then.

        • What would dez do with Weeden as the starter compared to Murray? That is how jerry needs to look at it. U can’t have 3 $100 mil contracts on offense and continue to neglect the defense.

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    The needs we have currently, are 1 tech first, LE, FS, CB, RT if Free leaves, and a QB. RB is also something we need. That’s quite a bit if you don’t sign Dez you can get FS and the 1 tech in FA if you want.

    • This offense has enough weapons to win without dez if the coaches use them properly. Improve the D and they are serious contenders.

      • Gabriel Carrasco

        Issue is the coaches don’t use guys properly, I can use the weapons we have better than the coaching staff, but the coaches are terrible. Chris Petersen is sending 4 defensive players to the NFL next year from Washington. One of them he kicked off the team in Marcus Peters his CB who was quite possibly his best player. He was projected as a 1st round pick, but could very easily slip to the 3rd or 4th round.

      • Jeff Kessinger

        Linehan is doing a good job of sticking to the run for the most part, but offense is still vanilla, and under utilizes players. Very little imagination, and variety. Let me run that offense, and we wouldn’t be stopped. I guarantee you a flavorful offense that utilizes all the weapons that the team has, and you wouldn’t hear the excuses of he was double covered all game and that’s why they didn’t get him the ball.

  • Lionone1

    Dez Bryant’s don’t just fall from the trees.

    • Gabriel Carrasco

      True, but at the same time, what helps the team more one Dez or maybe 3 good players in FA? That’s the main thought. Both sides of this argument have great points on to let Dez go or keep him. Letting him go allows you to get 3 good players, and you can draft a younger WR. Keeping him keeps the team chemistry high, and helps you bring passion to the team.

      • Team means multiple players. Sacrificing several for the sake of 1 isn’t the recipe for success. How many rings has giving Megatron big money brought Detroit? NE is in contention every yr because they refuse to hand out big contracts to skill positions other than QB. This helps them maintain balance across the board.

        • Lionone1

          They just might have to do that. It’s impossible to keep everyone.

      • Lionone1

        Yea its tricky. Thats the difference between this team and the 90’s. Back then you could keep all of these guys. Its not possible anymore. Dez will be expensive and FA will be expensive too. Just depends on who’s out there of course and what you need. Thats why I don’ t like contract talks in the middle of the season. They have the guys now better make the best of it

        • californy

          Dez and Murray are having strong season for a big pay day, and they will get that money whether it here in Dallas or not. I project Murray to be the hightest paid Rb in NFL salary base on current projection for this year. I really dont think The NFl think mucjh of Dez Side line Tirades, like they do in Dallas. In Dallas it all about image and marketing rather than the winning of games, That how it been the last 18 years

    • Neither do $100 million contracts

      • Lionone1

        If they do sign him they better draft well on defense. The offense is good to go for a while. Its been pretty darn good for years. I would hate to see Dez go but, they have to continue to be financially responsible. I still think they are fragile at the CB position this year, that might be number 1 priority in the draft. They have a lot of decisions to make with all the players in their final year. But, thats why I don’t like contract talk in the middle of the year lol

  • Gabriel Carrasco

    Stephen Jones apparently is nothing like his dad, he isn’t as prideful. He just said that he and his family and the organization are the reason why Romo hasn’t won a Superbowl. He said that we didn’t put enough people around him. Finally someone is taking credit for that.

  • Chris

    I remember watching the Cowboys Lions game where was Dez throwing his “temper tantrums” and the announcers just eating it up along with every other media outlet only to have them eat their words once the audio was of it was released. I love Dez and the attitude he brings to this team, the fire and passion that is reminiscent of Irvin. However i don’t like that he switched agents to Jay-Z’s company, bad move. It’s all about name recognition and that’s what Jay-Z and his company is after, they got Kevin Durant the #2 player in the NBA today but what scares me is how much does his company really know about sports? Maybe he hired some sports know it all’s but still not a good move for Dez. He does deserve to be paid more than $7mil a year that’s for sure, he’s grown up from the player he was 2 years ago. Aside from Megatron there’s no other receiver i’d like to have than Bryant (I happen to have both on my fantasy team, 1st pick was Megatron with the 7th overall pick and Dez was my 2nd rounder). Demaryus Thomas is in a pass happy offense with Manning of course, the Cowboys are now a running team (finally!) behind one of if not the best offensive line in football. Wes Welker is getting old and is injury and concussion prone, Reggie Wayne is old and coming off a season ending injury last year, Crabtree is not in the same league as Dez and Maclin is definitely one of the better of the bunch along with Thomas. However Maclin is not as physical or as big of a threat as Dez is.
    Going back to my main point, yes Dez deserves to be paid more than $7mil a year but right now, the Cowboys can not afford to pay him more than $12mil a year that he’s asking for.
    I don’t think Murray deserves big money either….YET, yes he is playing like a beast! and we all love it! but he needs to finish a full season before anything.

    I’m going to focus on this season right now because it’s been awhile since the Cowboys have played this great. Let’s just all soak it in right now while we still can cause who knows how next years team will look like. We should’ve been at least 8-2 right now though hell 9-1 but just poor coaching and execution against the skins and cards… oh well lets just beat the giants then eagles!

    • californy

      There no reason to discuss the Dez contract other than for discussion reason, The Cowboys are currently 4.25 Million under the salary cap, and that wont even be enough to signed Dez or Murray. In looking at the other NFL team there are currently 10 teams who have salary cap beyond 10 Million available for this year, My guess those team and other may be suitor for Dez services should the Cowboy unable to afford him, and the same goes with Murray. Jacksonville is currently 28 Million under the cap and Cleveland is 21 Million under the cap, Im sure either team can become big spenders in the in the FA market should they decide to do so

      • Chris

        It’s going to be a tough offseason for our Cowboys and tough decisions will be made with all these soon to be FA players.

        At least our O line won’t be a big issue barring any injuries.

      • Dez new agent found a cash cow. Dez will become money hungry.

        • Chris

          Jay-z and Roc Nation needs to stick to music and stay out of sports. He’s greedy and that’s not going to help Dez progress, if anything it might turn him into a diva because that’s what Jay-Z is becoming as well.

  • Alexander James

    How real is the possibility of Dez getting the D-Ware treatment? Huge contract, salary cap hell, annual restructuring, kicked to the curb….

    • Lionone1

      Dallas made poor decisions in the past signing or holding onto older players for to long ended up hurting the chances of keeping Ware. Dez is caught in a situation where Dallas is trying to get out of salary cap hell under Garrett by getting younger, drafting better, more efficient contracts. I think the real question is do you think he is a cornerstone to this team like Romo and Witten?

    • Gabriel Carrasco

      Issue with Ware, was he was an older player, and his production was declining, and was hurt. Now obviously that was simply one bad year for him, and why he was really cut, was because of the poor management of the cap and the constant restructuring of Ware’s contract, got him cut. That being said, if Dez isn’t here next year, then it shows just how much the team has changed, focusing on the important position groups, rather than going for flash.

    • Al

      very likely: it will probably happen to Romo. It’s text book Jerry. This is the guy who let Larry Allen and Emmitt Smith walk.

  • Lionone1

    Don’t watch much college football but great game Florida State vs Miami

  • Jeff Kessinger

    I have to agree with Gabriel on this. I listen to the fan 105.3 a lot, they are the official radio station of the Dallas Cowboys, and about half of their broadcasting is about the Cowboys. As an example Rappaport reported that 20 players broke curfew and the coaches were upset. This was not even close to the truth of the matter. There were some players late, but they were late because they were with the team at a party Jerry Jones put on at the some place in London, and there wasn’t a hard curfew, and on top of that per NFLPA rules the Cowboys weren’t allowed to have a hard curfew. Sure Garrett could say he wanted them in by midnight, but it couldn’t be a hard curfew. Also the five calls of police going to his house were all things that had nothing to do with Bryant being in trouble.

    As far as route running goes you run what the OC calls, and if Linehan isn’t calling for Dez to run more than three routes that’s not Dez’s fault. I have my own reservations about the design of plays by Linehan to begin with. As an example the TD that Dez scored when he was lined up in the slot and ran a crossing pattern isn’t something that Linehan calls for Dez too often, and that truly puzzles me. He rarely if ever bunches the WRs, which is a very effective way of getting a team into playing a zone instead of going man to man, and doubling a teams most dangerous receiver. Al I know you’ve agreed with me in the past about some of the play calling, and in talking about what Dez is worth you must take that into consideration about what his routes are.

    I believe that you have to consider Dez’s abilities, and I mean physical ones when talking about his contract. If you are judging on what routes he runs or how he is used alone when considering his contract then yes he is not a top five, but if you consider his physical abilities and the ability to fight for the ball, catch balls that aren’t on target or what he can do with the ball once in his hands then he is absolutely a top five receiver. Not many WRs are a strong and hard to bring down as Dez, and his ability to catch the ball and adjust to it in air are all top five abilities. Now I agree that I don’t want the Cowboys to break the bank with a Dez contract, but they can sign him to a big contract, and not do that. They could laden it with performance incentives, and behavioral incentives.