Clearly, Dez Bryant’s thirst for revenge against the team that let him go because football reasons isn’t going to limit him to just signing with an NFC East team. Dallas releasing Dez well after teams had burned through most their free agency dollars certainly didn’t do him any favors (and arguably falls into the “below the belt” category), and as of draft day, Bryant is still unsigned.
According to the gang at NFL Network, though, at least one team tried to make it work with Dez - and it just so happens New England’s on-again off-again AFC rivals and trick play Buzz Killingtons in Baltimore.
Source: Former #Cowboys WR Dez Bryant turned down a multi-year offer from the #Ravens. He apparently wants a big 1-year deal and chance to secure bigger long-term contract as a UFA from beginning in 2019.— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) April 25, 2018
Yup. Ravens needed a multi-year deal to fit under the cap, Dez Bryant wanted a 1-year. Baltimore wanted him, Bryant wasn’t ready to commit. https://t.co/T3n7ohBRwk— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2018
The #Ravens were very interested in WR Dez Bryant, who wanted a 1-year deal instead. Details: pic.twitter.com/9uvqcPANly— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2018
Rapoport describes the Ravens’ pitch as “a pretty lucrative offer, around or probably a little more than the Michael Crabtree would have made. It was a multi-year deal; Dez wanted a one-year to be able to go out there, kill it in 2018, and cash in in future years. The reason the Ravens had to offer a multi-year deal is because of cap considerations.”
Now previously, our fearless leader Rich Hill had gotten all heart-eyes over the possibility of adding Dez Bryant to Tom Brady’s huddle with Rob Gronkowski, a hopefully-100% recovered Julian Edelman, an also-hopefully-100%-recovered Malcolm Mitchell, and whoever else makes the final 53 from a crowded wide receiver room in 2018. At that point, though, we still didn’t really know much about Dez’s value or what he (read: his agents) thought his value was. Was he expecting a beaucoup bucks deal like his monster extension in Dallas? Did he want to keep pace with the ZOMG market-resetting contracts that Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins happily signed for $82,500,000.00 and $81,000,000.00, respectively? Would Dez even entertain the idea of a one-year deal to tear it up and re-establish himself after a down year, like Rapoport describes? Or would you get laughed out of the meeting and blocked on Twitter for even suggesting that a wideout like Dez that led the NFL in receiving touchdowns as recently as 2014 would play on the infamous one-year “prove-it” deal?
Now, we know more or less exactly what Dez wants, money-wise and in terms of a contract. And thanks to the crew at NFL.com, we also know that Bryant’s not expected to sign anywhere until after the draft. Which, even if the draft wasn’t today, that’d make perfect sense anyway; the Patriots are currently at $13,926,158 in cap space, according to our good buddy PatsCap, and that’s just about exactly in the middle of the league in terms of how many dollars everyone has available. Since not every team has the luxury of having a PatsCap-esque cap savant, according to Overthecap.com, the Patriots are 16th in terms of available cap space.
The Ravens, like Rap mentioned earlier, would’ve had to do a multi-year deal to fit Dez under their current cap, which is a smidge over $10 million. New England’s already cleaned house and released just about everyone we recommended they release to free up some cap space (coincidence? You decide!), and they also could restructure quite a few big-name contracts to free up some more space if needed.
Point being, assuming Dez isn’t fishing for a 1 year, $20,000,000 deal, I’ll leave the actual dollars and cents to our resident cap nerds, but theoretically, if New England brought Bryant in and decided to let him be this year’s Darrelle Revis, there’s ways to make it work, cap-wise.
And football-wise, well, if Josh McDaniels couldn’t find a way to put Dez Bryant in the 10-touchdown, 1,000-yard season ballpark with Tom Brady throwing deep more often than he ever has in his career, then, well, let’s just say we’re going to have way bigger problems when Belichick retires than we thought.
New England was never going to be in play to sign Dez to a market-rate wide receiver contract; as if you needed another classic case, the Patriots’ attempts to sign Brandin Cooks to a longer-term deal blew up in their face when it turns out Cooks and the team were millions (millionS, plural) apart in terms of contract dollars. But now that Dez has made it clear that he’s willing to wait for a short-term deal and wait out the draft, that’s a whole different ballgame than trying to sign a deal that’ll take you through your early 30’s at 8 figures a year.
One more thing to consider, perhaps apropos of nothing; despite the Patriots working out and hosting visits with some of the hottest wide receivers in the draft, including Alabama’s Calvin Ridley and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Belichick and the draft war room have balked at spending high-round picks on receivers. So, while a few of us here at the Pulpit think a game-breaking wideout on a relatively cheap rookie deal from a high draft pick could be in play, it’d be bucking about, oh, almost two decades of precedent from Bill.
The point being, getting back to Dez, there’s only a handful of teams that could make it work for him, in terms of paying him on a decently-priced one-year deal AND giving him a legit chance to prove he’s worth spending $80 million or whatever in 2019. Heck, there’s only a handful of teams that could do either one of those things. There’s only a few that can realistically even come close to doing both.
And when you think about it, nothing gets the market value cooking again quite like a career-best postseason run.
Classic “I think we can help each other” situation, really.