On Tuesday night, the Miami Dolphins placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry. This prevented him from hitting the open market and being pursued by teams such as the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Ravens.
Now, Landry is likely out of the Ravens grasp barring an unexpected turn of events, but Allen Robinson is reportedly going to get the franchise tag from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Both Landry and Robinson’s tagging is a big blow to a free agent receiver market that as of now, has no number one receiver out there. There are still some good options like Danny Amendola, Sammy Watkins (unless the Los Angeles Rams use their franchise tag on him), Terrelle Pryor Sr., Marqise Lee, and Paul Richardson.
Potential cap-casualties like Jordy Nelson, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders also enter the fray, especially if the Denver Broncos have to move on from one of those two aforementioned receivers to make a run at quarterback Kirk Cousins.
A lot can certainly change, but one player who could be made available for Baltimore is Dez Bryant. The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a disappointing year after winning the NFC East the season prior.
Bryant’s status in Dallas is in doubt after a trying season of his own. Bryant played all 16 games for Dallas in 2017, but only caught 69 receptions for 838 yards, and 6 touchdowns. His 2017 campaign was plagued by drops and inconsistencies. Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said in an interview last month that Bryant “can be a distraction” .
The connection between him and Dak Prescott was off last season. The two were unable to continue what they did in the second half of their 2016 campaign as Bryant finished that season with eight touchdowns in an offense that was primarily based on the rushing attack of Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys signed Bryant to a 5-year, $70 million contract after the 2014 season. Bryant is scheduled to receive $12.5 million this year and will count $16.5 million against the cap over the next two years. According to OverTheCap.com, Dallas currently has $19 million in cap space.
If the Cowboys and Bryant can’t come to an agreement on a pay cut, then the team could release the eight year veteran and they could even free up $12 million in cap space if he’s designated as a post-June 1st cut. Regardless of when he is released, the Ravens should make a run and sign him.
Bryant would be the prototypical veteran signing Baltimore is well known for. The Ravens have the tendency to sign players who are 30 years or older, even with some battling injury issues at this stage of the game. Recently, they’ve signed players such as Mike Wallace and Steve Smith who some thought were done and were problematic in the locker room at the time Baltimore brought them in. Those same things that were being said about Wallace and Smith are now currently being said about Bryant. Bryant is also 29 turning 30 years old in November. All of those factors are accustomed to how Baltimore has operated when it comes to finding free agent wide receivers.
Another thing to add, and this is important, the Ravens were originally gunning for Bryant during Day 1 of the 2010 NFL Draft. Bryant met with Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh prior to the draft and Baltimore was sitting with the 25th pick waiting for Bryant to fall to them. So much so they celebrated when the Green Bay Packers selected Bryan Bulaga with the 23rd pick. All of a sudden, Jerry Jones then traded up with the New England Patriots at 24, just one pick shy of the Ravens and made the Bryant selection. The teams war room was stunned, and Newsome traded out of the first-round with the Denver Broncos (who went on to select Tim Tebow) and proceeded to select Sergio Kindle.
The Cowboys and Bryant still have to work out their issues in order for the Ravens to even have a shot at him. Bryant hasn’t had a 1,000 yard season since 2014, and just like the Cowboys, Baltimore is more of a run-first team now with the emergence of Alex Collins. However, the Ravens know all too well the talent he still is, and the threat he could still bring to an offense that needs it. He’s also the kind of “jump up and get it” player that Joe Flacco didn’t have in 2017. Bryant would come with baggage and questions, yes, but with this being Newsome’s last offseason as general manager, he may finally have the chance to get a player who he came so close to drafting just eight years ago.