A year ago, Dez Bryant had two catches for 43 yards and no touchdowns in the Cowboys‘ season-opening win over the Giants. On Sunday, Bryant, a free agent since the spring, watched the Cowboys fall to the Panthers, 16-8, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicated. Quarterback Dak Prescott finished 19 of 29 for 170 yards and his longest pass went for 20 yards. He was also sacked six times.
In simple terms: The Cowboys’ offense was without a big-play downfield threat, a fact that didn’t escape Bryant.
And it’s probably not a good sign for the offense that Bryant, who hasn’t been with the team in five months, was predicting routes based on the pre-snap hand signals.
In related news: Bryant found this hilarious:
After the Cowboys’ success in 2016 with then-rookies Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, it sure looked like they were following the same strategy as the Eagles and Rams: Take advantage of a young quarterback on his rookie deal and use that salary-cap surplus stock the roster with talent and depth at other positions. Philadelphia parlayed that into its first Lombardi Trophy and Los Angeles spent the offseason making the case that it’s the NFC’s best team despite the Eagles’ recent title.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, slipped in 2017 and missed the playoffs after going 9-7, and they’ve done next to nothing to improve the offense around Prescott.
But it’s not like Bryant is desperate for work; he reportedly turned down a three-year, $21 million deal from the Ravens this spring and did the same when the Browns reportedly offered him less than $5 million a year. There was also the matter of Bryant wanting to play for a better team, according to PFT, and both the Patriots and Redskins qualify.
If recent months are any guide, two things are a near certainty: It’s unlikely Bryant will suddenly be amenable to playing for less than he feels he’s worth, and the Cowboys are still in desperate need of help at wide receiver.