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.
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.
Â 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?
There is some pretty stiff competition out there. Among the best available are Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Jeremy Maclin,Â Reggie WayneÂ and Michael Crabtree. There are about 50 prospects to choose from; I just listed some of the top names.Â You can see the complete list including their salaries and contract info by clicking Here.Â 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.Â 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, Â 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 perÂ 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 isÂ a much more accurate QB than Matthew Stafford.
Â 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 TDsÂ 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)Â 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 5Â 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.
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 toÂ the same money, maybe a bit more,Â 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.