Cowboys: What the free agent market means for Dez Bryant


The free agent market has gone through the roof this offseason, here’s what that means for the Cowboys and Dez Bryant

Just when the Dallas Cowboys seemingly have things figured out, the free agent market goes and does something like this. After weeks of tough talk and posturing, the whole plan appeared to fall out the window after the free agent market exploded – delivering vast amounts to otherwise pedestrian players.

Since the 2017 season prematurely concluded, talk of Dez Bryant’s play not equaling his pay have run rampant. While some demanded a pay cut, others called for his outright release. The thinking was: cheaper and comparable solutions could be found elsewhere so cheaper and comparable solutions should explored.

But then came free agency…

Last season the bottom fell out on the WR market, forcing many accomplished and/or promising receivers to accept short-term, low-dollar deals. This year, she swung back with a vengeance, rewarding anyone capable of catching a cold with a high-dollar multi-year deal.

The climate of the NFL has changed and Dez Bryant stands to benefit. The Cowboys were said to be on the hunt for former first-rounder, Sammy Watkins. But Sammy turned out to, not only be out of their ballpark, but out of their parking lot, and possibly even their zip code.

Like dominos, the free agents fell. Commanding more than anyone could have been predicted just days ago. And like all things in life, value is based on supply and demand and a consumer’s ability to replace. Well, the demand is high. The supply is suddenly low. And Dez isn’t so easily replaced, making his $12.5M base salary not as crazy as it once seemed.

The fact is, $12.5 million doesn’t buy what it once did. Market values have changed these past few days, and just like that, the spending power of the NFL dollar devalued.  Dez still failed to live up to expectations last season but the expectations for $12.5 million have changed going forward.

Again, let’s consider Watkins: The kid only collected 39 balls for 593 yards last season. The season before he only had 28 for 430 yards. He only surpassed 1000 yards once and it was only by 47 yards that he eclipsed that. So in other words, his career year was back in 2015 and even then he only averaged 65.4 yards per game over the 16-game season.

None of this is to say, we should give Dez a pass, either. Dez hasn’t had over 1k in a season since 2014. He needs to step up his game, even if the passes are a little off target or a bit ill-timed. And even if he’s injured and playing through pain.

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David Moore over at DMN suggests the Cowboys could continue to play hardball and wait for everyone’s spending cash to dry up before continuing talks. The thinking is, if no one has money left to spend, the Cowboys could threaten to cut him. Then, and he’d run the risk of losing money rather than making money on the open market.

Two problems with that:

  1. Everyone can find money if they want to. All teams have player deals they can restructure and no one is incapable of spending more.
  2. It’s not in the Cowboys’ character. The Joneses love their guys. They can play hardball, but they’re far from being vindictive. They know players don’t want to play for a soulless franchise and the Jones have a good reputation for treating their players the right way.

Motivation is key

Motivation was, and continues to be, the issue for Dez Bryant. All of the shade being cast on him this offseason has taken a toll on Dez. And, for the most part, he’s responded the right way. He’s determined to silence his doubters and come back with a vengeance in 2018. And isn’t that the ideal situation?

If Dez can come back and be even 80% of the force he was in 2014, then he’ll be well worth his contract. Remember, the NFL dollar doesn’t buy what it once did and replacing Dez through free agency gets harder every day.

Next: Why 'no Dez' equals 'big problems' for the Cowboys

The free agency spending spree has blown the market through the roof this week. The result of which gives Dez Bryant firmer ground to stand on, and an urgency for the Cowboys to address WR in the upcoming draft.