Recently released Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant may not be unemployed for long. Though the 29-year-old has seen his numbers decline over the last few seasons, he is still garnering interest from a number of teams around the league, teams hungry for the red-zone presence the 6’2, 220-pound Bryantcan provide.
If this were 2014, Bryant would be the hottest commodity on the market (and Dallas wouldn’t have let him go in the first place). Back then, Bryant was a top-five WR in the NFL, coming off an 88-catch, 16-touchdown, 1300-yard season.
But injuries and age started to take their toll. The downward trend continued the last two seasons, even though Dallas’ QB situation improved with the arrival of Dak Prescott. Bryant’s time as a true #1 wideout had come to an end.
Given that Dez was going to cost the Cowboys $16 million against the salary cap, the team understandably elected to move on, cutting him last week. But just because he isn’t worth $16 million doesn’t mean he’s valueless.
Initial reports suggested the Bills, Packers, and Ravens were all in the market for a receiver with Bryant’s skillset. Bryant, himself, has stated that he would like to sign with another NFC East team, so he has the chance to play the franchise that cut him twice a year. But the most likely landing spot at this time appears to be Baltimore.
According to NFL.com’s Chris Wessling, the Ravens have “shown the most interest in Bryant since he was released.” Baltimore’s offense — in particular its passing game — has floundered of late, finishing fourth-last in the league in yards per game in 2017. While some of that is due to Joe Flacco’s regression as a passer, it’s also thanks to a receiving corps largely devoid of playmakers.
Baltimore already signed former 49er and Raider Michael Crabtree this offseason to remedy the situation, and evidently, are not done making moves.
Baltimore could be a desirable landing spot for Bryant, who recently extoled the New York Giants’ defense in an interview with 247sports. The Ravens’ D is Super Bowl-ready. Even paired with an anemic offense, the team has not-so-far-fetched 33/1 odds to win the Lombardi Trophy (odds pulled from this NFL 2018-19 betting guide). If John Harbaugh can create any semblance of a passing game, they will start to look like one of the more complete teams in the league.
There is a lingering question of fit, of course. Crabtree is not a speedster; Bryant is not a speedster; and Flacco’s relative strength is throwing the deep ball. Having that pair occupy two of Baltimore’s receiver spots may not put Flacco in the best position to succeed.
That said, when your second-leading receiver was a 37-year-old Ben Watson who barely cracked 500 yards, modest improvement shouldn’t be hard to come by.