The official start of summer is still ten days away, but if you’re Dez Bryant, it may already feel like the dog days.
The former three-time Pro Bowl receiver is still unsigned after being unceremoniously released by the Dallas Cowboys almost two months ago.
The Tennessee Titans have a three-time Pro Bowl receiving threat of their own, and if he had his way then Bryant wouldn’t be unsigned much longer.
He’ll de donning the two-tone Titan blue uniform this year.
Tight end Delanie Walker, one of the trusted veterans and leaders on the team, recently told the Dallas Morning News that he would welcome Bryant with open arms.
“We’ve got some good, premier receivers on our team, Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews. It’s another element if they was to bring him to the team. If he can help us out, gladly I would welcome him with open arms.”
Walker went on to add….
“I see him in my type of situation, you know, an older vet guy. And I’m able to play at a high level, so I’m still sure he’s able to play at a high level. People have got to remember, it’s football. Some years you’re going to have bad years, some years you’re going to have good years. And, you know, they’ve got to look at the better years he had than him having one bad year.”
Could Walker have been playing the politically correct game in Bryant’s former city?
Could he be serious?
The real question is….does the Titans’ front office share his sentiment?
We’ll go over reasons for…and against Bryant.
Titans hold leverage in contract negotiations
At this stage of the game, taking a flyer on Bryant would be a low risk…high reward scenario for the organization. After turning down a three-year deal with Baltimore, word out of Bryant’s camp is that he is looking for a one-year deal. That’s ideal for Tennessee, who would not have to invest long-term for his services. With an asking price that is plummeting toward the veteran minimum, the Titans could also afford to bring him on while shopping for additional pieces later this summer if need be.
Numbers don’t lie
Bryant (by all accounts) had a down year with Dallas last season when he hauled in 69 receptions for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns. To put those numbers in perspective, he would have been Tennessee’s leading receiver in all three categories in 2017. His 838 receiving yards would have led the entire team. Walker finished with a team-high 807.
But what about the drops?
Yes, Bryant led the league in dropped passes last season. But let’s not forget, Eric Decker was a drop machine in some of the most critical situations for Tennessee last season. But no one remembered that after he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in last year’s wildcard playoff round.
Bryant has a well deserved reputation of being a hot head on the field, especially when the targets aren’t coming his way. That’s something quarterback Marcus Mariota never had to deal with in his three years in Tennessee. With an all-important contract year on the horizon and millions of future dollars at stake, it seems risky to bring someone like Bryant on board given his volatile personality.
Development of the young receivers on the roster
Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor were given passes for their unproductive rookie seasons last year, as it appeared to be poor coaching that stunted their growth more than a lack of ability. Bringing in a player like Bryant, who is used to getting 100 plus targets a year, could stunt their growth (and possibly their confidence) even further.
On one hand, if you fire the coaching staff that brought you your first playoff victory in nearly a decade in hopes of greener pastures, then it makes sense to go “all in” for 2018.
On the other hand, if Mariota is truly your qb of the future, do you want to tinker with the team chemistry that made the Titans so successful the last two seasons?
Let the debate begin.