The Cowboys and their new-look receiving corps struggled Sunday in a season-opening loss to the Panthers. Taking it all in, quite possibly with a bucket of popcorn and most definitely with his Twitter account, was former Dallas star Dez Bryant.
Released by the Cowboys in April and still yet to latch on with a team, Bryant had the leisure time to tweet his way through his longtime squad’s 16-8 defeat. The three-time Pro Bowler told his social-media followers that while he had no desire to return to the Cowboys, he could picture himself playing for the Patriots or the Redskins.
In response to a Dallas fan who pleaded with him to “please come back,” Bryant replied, “Naw I’m ok.” He went on to claim that if he were to line up next to New England’s Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman, he would “for sure” get “a 1 on 1 match up,” plus he wouldn’t be “getting criticized” or “controlled” for expressing his “love for the game.”
“Washington is cool as well,” Bryant added. Earlier in the day, as the Redskins were rolling to an early lead in what would become a 24-6 win over the Cardinals, the unemployed wide receiver had remarked that Washington was “looking nice.”
After being cut by the Cowboys, Bryant was reported to have wanted to sign with another NFC East squad, all the better to torment the team with which he spent his first eight NFL seasons. There has been little indication of any interest in him by the Redskins, who signed wide receiver Paul Richardson to a sizable free agent deal in the offseason and who selected a player with a Bryant-like skill set, Josh Doctson, in the first round of the 2016 draft.
Those two combined Sunday for just 33 yards on five catches, while another Redskins wide receiver, Jamison Crowder, chipped in three receptions for 32 yards. With new quarterback Alex Smith living up to his reputation of preferring to make short, safe throws, Washington was led Sunday by its running backs, Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson, who combined for 133 yards and a touchdown on eight catches, while tight end Jordan Reed had 48 yards and a score.
With Edelman suspended for the first four games, the Patriots were rumored to be looking at Bryant, but nothing came of it even after they released veterans Kenny Britt and Eric Decker. In a 27-20 win Sunday over the Texans, New England’s top wide receiver was Phillip Dorsett, who had seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, with Hogan and another wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson, accounting for just one reception each.
Of course, the Patriots also have a future Hall of Famer at tight end in Gronkowski, and he led the team with seven catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, to a Twitter user who claimed that Dallas would have won Sunday if it had kept the receiver and kicker Dan Bailey, Bryant replied, “Real fact.”
Without Bryant and longtime tight end Jason Witten, who retired to take a job as an analyst on “Monday Night Football,” the Cowboys have put together a makeshift receiving corps, with no clear top player. By default as much as anything else, that role figures to go to either veteran Cole Beasley, who led his team Sunday with seven catches for 73 yards, or offseason acquisition Allen Hurns. But third-round draft pick Michael Gallup could make a case as the season goes along, as could another recent addition, Deonte Thompson.
Bryant appeared to be on the verge of signing with the Browns, but that has yet to happen. In response to Twitter users, he denied Sunday that he was “making a pitch” to the Patriots and Redskins, or “begging anyone” for a job, but the 29-year-old asserted that he would be “pursuing football again shortly.”
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