NFL teams seemed to want to finish the draft process before they added Dez Bryant. The Baltimore Ravens extended a multi-year offer prior to the draft, but Bryant wanted a one-year deal, according to NFL Media. That now looks like a missed opportunity for Bryant.
Almost two weeks removed from draft day, Bryant has faded from relevance. He’s unsigned. If anyone else is sniffing around him, no one is reporting it.
In fact, the conversation surrounding Bryant is whether he’s worth the veteran minimum. (He absolutely is. I’m with Cole Beasley.)
“I’ve seen the things going around that teams won’t even sign him for minimum. I’m like that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Beasley said recently on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan. “I don’t know if it’s just rumors going around, what he is off the field or in the locker room. Dez was always a great teammate to me, and he did want to see other guys succeed.”
When something inexplicable like this happens, folks begin to search for a solution. On draft day, rumors swirled that TMZ had a major story on LSU running back Derrius Guice, which explained his fall into the third round. But that proved untrue. In fact, a TMZ editor posted on Twitter to make 100 percent clear that their editorial staff had nothing prepared on Guice.
When Dez was trying to get a major contract extension, there was “the video,” which never materialized. It’s not impossible “the video,” real or not, might even still be keeping NFL teams away.
Sometimes these falls from grace are justified. Sometimes they aren’t. With Bryant, it’s impossible to know. Things might have deteriorated significantly in Dallas behind the curtain in Bryant’s final year. But on the surface, he seems like less of a handful than Odell Beckham Jr. Bryant is not anywhere as talented as Beckham anymore. But if there’s enough talent, players find a home in the NFL. So does Bryant still have enough talent?
The thought process was that Bryant, who had 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014, might move into the slot like Larry Fitzgerald, who transitioned to be a big-bodied slot receiver as his athleticism has faded over the last few years. That worked well for Fitzgerald, who has had 1,000-yard seasons for the last three years. Such a transition is realistic for Bryant. That said, Bryant may have had a few dominant years, but he’s not Fitzgerald’s caliber of receiver.
Fitzgerald is also known as one of the nicest men and strongest leaders in the NFL. It’s hard to say the same for Bryant, whose personality problems are what truly make the comparisons to Fitzgerald useless. While the Cardinals were surely excited to work through the transition with Fitzgerald, teams may not be excited about putting in time helping Bryant through that same transition. If Bryant, 29, projects to be a slot receiver (but isn’t a sure thing there), then teams might be reluctant to add a guy whose negative reputation precedes him — even if that reputation is somewhat unfair, according to Beasley and Tony Romo.
To make things worse, Bryant seems to still believe he has the talent to be a No. 1 receiver. By rejecting the Ravens’ multi-year offer, he decided to bet on himself to have a successful season in 2018, and get a major deal during the 2019 offseason. What if a team doesn’t have interest in getting the ball to Bryant 130 times in a season? How would Bryant respond to a role as the team’s third receiver in a contract year?
My guess: not well.
If Dez Bryant is unwilling to take a reduced role, that’s a bad look for Bryant. It shows the stubbornness that, in part, led to his reputation as a locker room cancer. And that’s just another excuse for NFL teams to avoid bringing him into their building.