Could the “X” be coming to D.C.?
That was one of the first questions from Redskins fans after the Dallas Cowboys released prolific receiver Dez Bryant on Friday afternoon, particularly when Bryant told NFL Network’s Jane Slater that he’s looking at teams in the NFC East. And Bryant is the type of competitor that would relish punishing his former team twice a year.
But that likely doesn’t include the Redskins. A person familiar with the Redskins’ thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity said the team isn’t interested right now in Bryant, whose touchdown celebration is to make an “X” with his arms.
It would be a big surprise for Bryant to end up in Washington, but owner Daniel Snyder has splurged on big-name players in the past. The Panthers unexpectedly pulled the franchise tag from Josh Norman in April 2016 and the Redskins swooped in and signed him to a five-year, $75 million deal.
Washington has been fairly quiet this offseason with just three free agent signings of players that were on other rosters in 2017. One of those was former Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson, who signed a five-year, $40 million deal. That high-dollar contract could make it difficult to sign Bryant, though Washington has $17.16 million in cap space remaining.
The problem with adding Bryant is figuring out how he fits into the offense, when the depth chart is already three deep and Washington has already made a big commitment to Richardson. The Redskins projected starters are Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Richardson. Crowder figures to work the slot in three-receiver sets, while the team has been pushing for more opportunities for Doctson, dating back to last season. Given the recent signing of Richardson, where exactly would Bryant fit?
Crowder is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and Doctson in 2020. But both players are considerably younger than Bryant. Washington has needs at other positions, so spending considerably more money at wide receiver would hurt their chances at upgrading other spots. Bryant may be a star, but he’s an aging star who would likely want a significant contract. Neither of those things would seem to align with the Redskins offseason plan.
Bryant signed a five year, $70 million contract in 2015 and has spent his entire eight-year career in Dallas. The 2010 No. 24 overall pick is a three-time Pro Bowler and his 73 career touchdown receptions is the fifth-most among active players.
If he did come to D.C. the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bryant would give quarterback Alex Smith the most accomplished receiver he has ever played with. The Redskins would present opponents with all kinds of matchup problems in the red zone, between Bryant and 6-2, 246-pound tight end Jordan Reed.
At least one Washington player is hoping Bryant comes to the District. Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar almost immediately started lobbying Bryant to join the roster on social media.
The bottom-line deciding factor on any interest would come down to the salary demands of Bryant, who’s expected to be an expensive addition. While you can’t rule anything out, it wouldn’t seem likely that Bryant winds up in Washington in 2018.
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