Monday night's debacle against the Titans wasn't the last game of the Cowboys' 2018 season worth paying attention to, as it turns out. Wednesday afternoon, former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. On Thursday night, Nov. 29, Bryant and the Saints come to Arlington to take on the Cowboys.
After waiting nearly three months into the season to sign a contract, Bryant, 30, is walking into an almost perfect situation in New Orleans. The Saints are 7-1. Sunday, they knocked off the Rams in the Superdome, staking their claim to being the best team in the NFL. Drew Brees is one of the NFL's most accurate quarterbacks and the Saints are loaded at the skill positions. Wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara are both top-five performers in the league at their positions. The Saints didn't sign Bryant to step into a starring role.
Instead, the former Cowboys wideout will get to focus on what he's done best as he physically wore down over his last two seasons in Dallas — provide a big, competitive target for Brees in the red zone as the Saints seek to lock down a first-round bye in the playoffs and a clear path to the Super Bowl.
Bryant's signing with Saints also officially marks the end of an era in Dallas. Since being cut by the only team he's ever played for in April, Bryant has repeatedly flirted with the idea of returning to the Cowboys at a discounted pay rate. The Cowboys' front office never seemed to return the interest, however, Jay-Z and Beyonce concerts notwithstanding.
As of Wednesday evening, the Saints had not announced whether Bryant will play in their game Sunday against the Bengals. Regardless of his status this weekend, Bryant will pile up enough reps over the next three weeks to be something close to top speed when he returns to the scene of some of his greatest heroics.
Bryant's former teammates on the Cowboys wished him the best in his new gig Wednesday.
“It’ll be exciting to face Dez, especially with him coming to his home here,” Ezekiel Elliott told reporters. “It’ll be good to see him. They’re getting a great receiver. He goes up and attacks the ball better than I’ve seen anyone. He’s definitely a special player and I’m glad he got picked up, and I’m glad something worked out for him.”
Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys' budding star at linebacker, called dibs on Bryant's jersey after the Nov. 29 contest.
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11/29 big bro Me n you jersey swap I’m calling first dibs fam congrats ! Ma G!!! @DezBryant love bro— Jaylon Smith (@thejaylonsmith) November 7, 2018
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters that Bryant will be a good fit in the Crescent City.
“Dez is a great player. Dez was a great player in this organization for a long time. Really happy for him and that opportunity. I know it’s important to him," Garrett said. "He wants to finish his career strong. He’s done such a great job for this organization and been an impact player in this league over the course of his eight years playing. Seems like a real good opportunity for him. I know he’ll help their team.”
If Bryant plays in this season's NFC Championship Game, it will be the first of his career. During his eight seasons in Dallas, Bryant played in two divisional playoff games in 2014 and 2016, losing both to the Packers, and one wild card, defeating the Lions in 2014.