Unless you’re a loyal fan or social media follower, you probably don’t hear much about Dez Bryant these days. Until days like yesterday, of course.
That’s because Dez Bryant, after what has been almost two years, is back in the NFL. Well, okay. That probably paints too exciting of a picture.
To put it more accurately, Dez is finally back with an NFL team after the Baltimore Ravens officially signed him to their practice squad earlier Tuesday. And regardless of what the situation is or isn’t or won’t be, it was the talk of the day.
I have a few thoughts here, the most pressing being… “It’s about time, isn’t it?
Sure, there are no guarantees, but that’s not what Dez was looking for. And despite my positivity for how things will pan out for him, many here in Dallas and nationwide would tell you otherwise. After all, Dez’s issues weren’t only to do with performance.
But I’m an OSU boy, and with that, I’ll never forget who Dez Bryant was. We used to watch old film of him and Justin Blackmon running 1 on 1’s and every other drill we could find before heading out to practice. To put it lightly, Dez was a diety to us young scout teamers.
But as he was back in the day, Dez was a firecracker who came rife with personal and locker room issues. Some might call that being human, while others might call it being an idiot at work. Here’s a great article on some of those times from the Dallas Morning News called “The craziest off-the-field moments in Dez Bryant’s Cowboys career, from locker room tirade to the pet monkey.”
Monkeys, you say? Yes, “hectic” was always in the realm of possibilities when Dez Bryant was around.
And that’s before all of the nagging injuries in the latter half of his career. If your memory is as fuzzy as mine, you’ll need a recap… Here’s a look at those injuries:
Yikes; that’s quite the list.
And yet, I’ve never been one to think that Dez, THE Dez Bryant, was completely done. I still don’t.
Of course, when it came to reasons behind letting Dez go, health and behavioral issues weren’t the only things looming. His performance in relation to the five-year, $70 million contract the Cowboys dealt him in 2015 played into things heavily. And when you look at his numbers when compared to other top receiving talents in the league, the production was underwhelming.
Here are his numbers when compared to the rest of the league by Total Yards, for every year since Dez hit the scene in 2010. For sake of ease, I’ll just list his position ranking by year below, followed by his yards and receptions. To see each year individually in table format, copy the following URL and substitute whatever year you’d like to view for “2011”: https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2011/receiving.htm.
Dez’s career position rank by Total Yards:
2010: 78th with 561 yards on 45 receptions
2011: 30th with 928 yards on 63 receptions
2012: 6th with 1,382 yards on 92 receptions
2013: 13th with 1,233 yards on 93 receptions
2014: 8th with 1320 yards on 88 receptions
2015: 121st with 401 yards on 31 receptions (*that one REALLY bad injury year)
2016: 51st with 796 yards on 50 receptions
2017: 28th with 838 yards on 69 receptions
That isn’t as encompassing of statistical analysis as I could provide, but the gist is this: those last couple of years at least made things interesting. I can’t help but think Dez had more in the tank, even with the Achilles and all.
Ah yes, the Achilles. That brings us to another issue…
Dez hasn’t played since his short stint in New Orleans.
And really, Dez didn’t get to play while he was there at all. Dez would end up spending just over half of the season with the Saints before tearing his Achilles tendon in practice and landing on the IR. Unfortunately, that injury came within eight short months of Dallas releasing him, and Dez was once again without a team by early winter.
Upon that injury, Dez announced he wasn’t interested in retiring and that he would instead focus on making a return. But sadly, in the time since, Dez hasn’t had any luck. Furthermore, he hasn’t even seen live-action since 2017 when he played in 16 games. That year, he led the Cowboys in receiving – duh! Who else would have? – with 69 catches for 838 yards.
Were those two years perhaps a glimpse of what could have been? Who knows, and who can blame Dallas for being intelligent and letting injury management take priority. But I’ll forever think about it. What if?
If you’ve followed this long, you know the road hasn’t been easy for Dez.
It’s no wonder he’s emotional. And at some point, I can’t help but think that’s partially due to feeling slighted. After all, there’s a lot you have to overlook when deciding not to take a chance on Dez over his character flaws.
It’s been a long road back for @DezBryant:
⬜️ 2016 Pro Bowler
⬜️ 838 yards, six TDs in 2017
⬜️ Cut by Cowboys in 2018
⬜️ Signed by Saints
⬜️ Tore Achilles two days later
⬜️ Missed entire 2019 season
Now back on the Ravens practice squad 🙏 @brgridiron pic.twitter.com/2e6ehER5r4
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 27, 2020
In thinking about his situation like I have countless times over the years, I was truly happy for Dez upon receiving the news this morning. I don’t mean to get sentimental here, but I feel for the guy. He’s had a tough go, be that his own fault, someone else’s, or whatever.
With that, as you could probably tell, I’ve struggled to understand is how and why Dez hasn’t been deemed good enough for a chance. I mean, I get it. But then again, I don’t. He was always good enough. Not for that sort of money, of course, but I digress.
Good for Dez.
I never understood why he was so scorned, in the NFL of all places.
AB… The array of other divas, domestic abusers, and criminals who find new homes…
It’s funny because getting along with people is more important than your desire to win.
Lesson in there.
— Matt Hirst (@mdhirst95) October 27, 2020
Here’s to wishing Dez the best. Considering the work it seems he’s put into both football and himself over the past couple of years, I’d be okay with him reaping some long-awaited benefits. Let’s hope he’s been able to square away his personal issues.
Dez Bryant deserves a lot of credit. Sounds like he came to tryout in August, got told to work his ass off and get to a certain level conditioning-wise.
THEN rather than just talk about it, he went and did it.
I’ll always respect that about a man. Well done Dez#RavensFlock
— Cole Jackson (@ColeJacksonRSR) October 27, 2020