Should the Packers Sign Dez Bryant?
Dez Bryant is a former member of the Dallas Cowboys. Multiple online outlets reported his release after a meeting with Jerry Jones today, and Bryant himself weighed in on the development on Twitter.
Bryant’s release is similar to that of Jordy Nelson’s in many respects. Bryant had two years remaining on a five-year, $70 million dollar extension and would have counted $16.5 million against the Cowboys’ cap in both 2018 and 2019.
His performance over the last two seasons doesn’t come close to justifying that expenditure: over the last three seasons, Bryant has averaged 50 catches for 678 yards and six touchdowns. His 2015 season represents the nadir of that stretch: limited by injury to just nine games, Bryant caught just 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
But even as his explosiveness has diminished, Bryant has put up consistent yards per reception numbers over the past several seasons, even though his average dipped to 12.1 per catch last year. With the Packers facing a need at receiver, the question stands: should the Packers sign Dez Bryant?
Yes, the Packers should sign Bryant
Assuming the financials work out, Bryant could be a more than adequate replacement for Jordy Nelson. Though he’s never built his game around deep speed, Bryant has always epitomized the idea of a physical outside receiver. At 6-2 and a well-muscled 225 pounds, Bryant is an imposing target.
Paired with Davante Adams, Bryant would be another excellent weapon for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, which will also feature Jimmy Graham in 2018.
What’s more, Bryant could be the solution to one of the holes in Graham’s game. While a weapon in the red zone, Graham has been limited between the 20s over the past couple seasons, but that’s where Bryant excels. Even in his diminished 2017 season, Bryant registered 52 of his 69 catches between his own 20 yard line and the opponent’s, producing 35 first downs on those catches.
No, the Packers should not sign Bryant
Assuming the financials work out is dangerous business. Bryant was scheduled to make big money in 2018 and 2019, and even given the opportunity to play with Aaron Rodgers, it’s hard to imagine him being eager to play for a contract that makes sense for the cap-strapped Packers, especially with an extension in the works for Rodgers.
From a playing perspective, while Bryant is impressive at times, he’s hardly the force he used to be. Playing all 16 games for the first time since 2014, Bryant managed to produce more than 75 yards in exactly one game last year. His last 100-yard receiving game was in the 2016 playoffs against the Packers, which will be 21 months in the past by the time Bryant would line up for his first hypothetical game in Green Bay.
In addition, Bryant turns 30 in November. Is spending even medium-sized money on another 30-ish pass catcher really a good idea? History says no, and this is exactly the sort of signing that would have given Ted Thompson heart palpitations, and for good reason.