Writer: Caleb Akpan

After a winter filled with rumors, vague responses to the media, and strange Twitter sessions, one of the biggest storylines of the 2018 NFL off-season seems to have an ending, or at least the beginning of one. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Dallas Cowboys have released wide receiver Dez Bryant after 8 seasons with team following the wide receiver’s meeting with team owner Jerry Jones earlier this morning.

h/t Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News

For Cowboys fans, the news marks the end of an era. Bryant had been the team’s leading wide-out since the midpoint of the Tony Romo years and at times was considered one of the best receivers in the league. Bryant peaked in 2014, when he racked up 1,320 yards catching for 16 touchdowns, the highest total of his career. That postseason was also the highlight of Bryant’s infamy in NFL lore, as he caught what was, at that time, called a dropped pass against the Green Bay Packers in the fourth quarter of that year’s NFC divisional playoff game.

Since that point, Bryant’s production has dropped significantly to say the least, and injuries have also troubled the former Pro Bowler. Since 2014, Bryant has only put up 2,035 receiving yards over three seasons for 17 touchdowns over those years, and that drop in production seems to be at the root of this releasing. The wide receiver was set to make $12.5 million dollars this year in his base salary, and Jones clearly didn’t seem to think the money was worth Bryant’s recent play.

This was made especially clear after the team signed 26-year old Allen Hurns at the same position. Hurns seems to be the de-facto number one receiver for the Cowboys going into next season, though that will be truly determined in training camp. The team also seems to have their eye on selecting a wide receiver in the early rounds of the draft. Bryant himself never seemed to mesh with quarterback Dak Prescott since the young QB became the Cowboys’ starter in 2016, we’ll see how the Cowboys pass offense fares with Bryant out of the game plan.

Despite recent woes, Bryant will without a doubt be the hottest item of the free agent market once the smoke clears, teams are likely rushing to inquire on his services already. Bryant himself tweeted out that he’s ready to “start the process” and is “unbothered” by what has transpired. Bryant also stresses to local media that “this wasn’t my decision”. If that is true, the wideout could be due for a rebirth in the 2018 season, but with what history tells us, there’s really no clue on which version of Dez Bryant will show up next season, or what jersey he will be playing in.

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