Update, 11:53 a.m. — The Dallas Cowboys released Dez Bryant on Friday morning. According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, team management did not offer Bryant a pay cut, instead opting for a clean break. On Twitter, Bryant made it clear to fans that he was not happy to leave. For more on how Bryant and the team got to this point, check out the story below.
Cowboy nation I need you to know this wasn’t my decision.. I will always love y’all... forever Dallas in my heart— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) April 13, 2018
Sometime Friday, provided he doesn't elect to skip the meeting, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is going to get together with team owner Jerry Jones. The news, from Bryant's perspective, doesn't figure to be good. Barring an unexpected turn of events, Bryant will face a pay cut, something he's said he won't accept, or he'll be cut by the team or traded for next to nothing.
Throughout the offseason, Stephen Jones, Jerry's son and the team executive who makes most of the team's personnel decisions, has said that the Cowboys have to do something about the $16.5 million Bryant is set to cost the team's salary cap in 2018. There's incentive, too, to resolve Bryant's situation before April 16, when the Cowboys' offseason workout program begins. If Bryant gets hurt during team activities, his 2018 salary becomes guaranteed.
If Friday's meeting is the end or the beginning of the end of Bryant's time with the Cowboys, it will close the books on the Dallas career of one of the franchise's most talented, frustrating and controversial players. Bryant will leave North Texas as the Cowboys' all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, with 73, having left his mark as one of the NFL's premiere red zone weapons during his eight-year career. He'll also do so having experienced limited team success during his time in Dallas, during which the Cowboys make the playoffs just twice and won just one playoff game.
Looking back on Bryant's career, it's easy to forget the sheer amount of stuff that's happened since the Cowboys picked him 24th in the 2010 draft out of Oklahoma State University.
Shortly after the draft, Bryant told reporters that Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland asked him if his mom was a prostitute and was eventually forced to apologize. Later in 2010, during training camp, Bryant shined a light on NFL rookie hazing when he refused to carry Cowboys veteran wide receiver Roy Williams' pads after practice.
"I'm not doing it," Bryant told reporters. "I feel like I was drafted to play football, not carry another player's pads. If I was a free agent, it would still be the same thing. I just feel like I'm here to play football. I'm here to try to help win a championship, not carry someone's pads. I'm saying that out of no disrespect to [anyone]."
The next year, Bryant and his entourage got kicked of NorthPark Center in March because mall security didn't like their sagging pants, and the wide receiver was sued over an unpaid $500,000 jewelry bill.
In 2012, DeSoto police arrested Bryant for an alleged assault on his mother, leading the Cowboys to implement the so-called "Dez Rules," which strictly curtailed the wide receiver's off-the-field activities.
Bryant responded well to the structure, largely staying out of the headlines off the field, save for a rumor about a videotaped incident in a Walmart parking lot. The tape never materialized, and the rumor surfaced just as the Cowboys were negotiating a long-term contract with Bryant. There was also a lawsuit, now settled, with Royce West over the condition in which Bryant left a home he was renting from the state senator.
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On the field, Bryant made his bones by being the most physical wide receiver in the NFL. He succeeded by overpowering his opponents. In 2014, the best season of both his and quarterback Tony Romo's careers, Bryant caught 16 touchdowns and led the league.
By the end of the year, though, his physical play seemed to catch up to him. In 2015 and 2016, Bryant missed significant time because of injury, and when he returned to play a full slate in 2017, he simply wasn't the same player, coming close to leading the league in dropped passes and catching just six touchdowns.
If Bryant doesn't play another game for the Cowboys, the moment for which he'll be most remembered won't be his dominating performance against Green Bay in the 2016 playoffs or any of the spectacular catches he made on a seemingly weekly basis during his prime. No, the play for which Bryant will be best remembered is a fourth-down pass officials said he didn't catch in a 2014 playoff loss to the Packers, one that inspired an NFL rule change for the 2018 season and a rallying cry Cowboys fans will never forget: Dez Caught It.