How the Packers Can Meet Dez Bryant's Contract Demands
Free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant turned down a multi-year contract from the Baltimore Ravens, and his rationale could give hope to those wishing he’d get a chance to complete at least one more catch in Green Bay.
The Ravens offered Bryant a three-year contract worth approximately $21 million, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. The deal was reportedly structured similarly to Baltimore’s contract with Michael Crabtree.
But Bryant says he wants a one-year contract with a higher annual salary in the hopes of rebuilding his value and entering the free agent market from a better position of leverage in the 2019 offseason.
What Dez Bryant turning down the Ravens means for the Packers
The contract structure Bryant wants – a one-year deal – matches what general manager Brian Gutekunst and director of football operations Russ Ball have done in free agency this offseason.
Green Bay’s deal with defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson signaled an organizational change. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
Beyond Wilkerson’s reasons for signing with Green Bay, there’s an interesting sea change afoot here. Though we have precious little to go on, Ted Thompson’s free agent signings in Green Bay followed one of two patterns: longer, pay as you go deals that essentially break down into year-by-year evaluations of the player (Charles Woodson, Julius Peppers, even Martellus Bennett) or bargain basement one year agreements (Jahri Evans, Jared Cook).
The former gives the team protection in the short term with the ability to retain the player long term. The latter gives the team a chance to fit smaller contracts under the salary cap easily, slotting higher upside veterans alongside affordable undrafted free agents and rookies.
Gutekunst’s deal with Wilkerson follows neither of these archetypes. The Packers have no long-term security with Wilkerson; if he blows up this year, he’s probably gone. Likewise, though his contract is affordable, it’s not like he’s playing for the veteran’s minimum. If he plays well, he’ll stand to have a solid payday, though not as much as he’d have made had he stayed in New York.
That the Packers would sign Wilkerson to such a deal is very interesting. It’s something we never saw from Ted Thompson, though fans begged for it for years.
Anybody can give out a deal that can be rescinded in a year. That's not a risk. That's not aggression. In this signing, at least, the Packers have shown they are willing to spend now without regard to what it could mean for the future. That, more than anything else they’ve done so far, is what aggression in free agency looks like.
And now, Dez Bryant is asking for the same type of deal that the Packers gave Wilkerson. If the stars are aligning to bring Bryant to Green Bay, this is a significant development.
Packers quickly becoming one of Dez Bryant’s last dance partners
From the beginning, Bryant has been vocal about wanting to exact revenge on Dallas. His preference is to play for either the Giants, Redskins or Eagles – NFC East teams who play the Cowboys twice per season.
Neither Washington nor Philadelphia has shown much interest in Bryant. New York, Bryant’s one of Bryant’s preferred teams, released veteran receiver Brandon Marshall last week. That move could signal the Giants’ interest in bringing Bryant on board. At the very least it clears the way for a signing. But general manager Dave Gettleman has been dismissive when asked about the subject.
Besides the NFC East, Baltimore, Green Bay and Houston drew the most buzz as strong favorites to land Bryant.
These three appear to be Bryant’s only remaining options. Though there’s no indication that any of those teams have approached the receiver, journalists continue to connect the dots.
With Rapoport’s news that Dez Bryant will wait until after the NFL Draft to sign with a team, it creates a wrinkle of intrigue to the upcoming event. If the Texans, Packers or Giants select a receiver early in the draft, the implication could be that they are no longer in need of Bryant’s veteran services.
But if none do, a Bryant signing could be all-systems go, including in Green Bay.