While Dez Bryant remains a man without a team, the man who owns his former club said the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver will be a positive wherever he lands.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also said on Wednesday that he doesn’t embrace the notion that Bryant lost the ability to win one-on-one battles on the outside. That was one of the reasons the team cut Bryant, Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will Clay said in a radio interview last week.
“I don’t feel that way. That’s not to disagree at all with Will, but I wish and want Dez to have the opportunity to compete in the NFL,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “I think he can, and I think he will. He’s certainly got the right stuff and the real question is: As every player in his career deals with injury or deals with the length of his career, I think he’s very capable mentally as well as physically to do the kinds of things that you have to, to adjust as you move on through your career.
“We just lost one of the greatest role models that may have ever played this game in Jason Witten. But certainly I think he can take some of the things he’s seen Jason do and incorporate that type of attitude and work ethic in what he’s doing and get a chance to be back out there.
“I think that every evaluation that I’ve seen, Dez has an excellent opportunity to make a contribution and a significant contribution to a team. Our time was the time and the right time (to release him) as far as our relationship, but that doesn’t preclude him from being productive for another team.”
McClay offered the following on ESPN 103.3 FM last week as to one of the reasons why the Cowboys parted ways with Bryant.
“It was a collective deal,” McClay said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “The (inability) to win one-on-one, to win downfield. There was inconsistency as well as some huge things in his play. So what’s best moving forward for Dez Bryant (and) the Cowboys, we just made that decision. It’s a production-based business.”
The 51-year-old McClay, who has been with the Cowboys organization since 2002, was handed his current title with the team last season. Under McClay’s watch since 2014, the Cowboys have drafted four Pro Bowl selections — guard Zack Martin, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys publicly announced that decision on Bryant on April 13, with the wideout later expressing his desire to remain in the NFC East. Bryant reportedly turned down a multiyear offer from the Baltimore Ravens prior to the 2018 NFL Draft in a bid to find the right fit on a one-year deal that could help secure a bigger contract the following year.
Dallas added wideouts Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin in the offseason and selected Michael Gallup in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The group joins Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Noah Brown on the Cowboys’ roster.
Bryant had a team-leading 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns with the Cowboys in 2017. The 29-year-old has gone a career-worst 23 regular-season games without a 100-yard performance.
Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has failed to record a 1,000-yard season or reel in more than eight touchdown receptions in a season.
Bryant was a touchdown machine in the first half of his career with the Cowboys, hauling in 41 scoring passes in a three-season span, capped by a career-high 16 in 2014. He was named a First-Team All-Pro selection that year.
During that spectacular run from 2012-14, Bryant also averaged 91 receptions and put up at least 1,233 receiving yards in each of those seasons.