Will he stay or will he go?
That seems to be the first and last question fans are asking when it comes to Dez Bryant’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.
Under the two remaining years on his current contract, the talented wide receiver will carry a cap hit of $16.5 million for the 2018 season and 2019 seasons (according to Spotrac.com).
As of right now, those figures make him the third and fifth highest-paid receiver in the league for those respective years.
The problem is that, according to Footballperspective.com, Bryant had the second-worst production rate per salary cap hit of all the receivers in the NFL. Tavon Austin of the Los Angeles Rams was last on the 89-man list. Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints carried the best value.
Less than a month ago, the talented pass-catcher seemingly had plenty of leverage when it came to how the two sides might restructure the three-time Pro Bowler's contract.
Now, Stephen Jones seems to have the upperhand, and might be preparing the franchise for life without the Lufkin native. Bryant and the Cowboys management are reportedly going to sit down for a meeting sometime this week.
Over the past few weeks, the Cowboys have added quality receivers to the roster, including Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns. The latter acquisition is notable because it carries a real acquisition cost. Hurns also has a skill-set that is similar (not the same) to that of Bryant.
At present, the Dallas receiving corps will carry a collective cap-hit of just over $30 million for this upcoming season alone. That’s the second-most expensive figure for any team in the NFL (according to Spotrac.com).
Neither Hurns, nor any of the other Cowboy receivers matches Bryant in terms of pure talent and ability. But if the front office decides to clear Bryant’s contract off the books (there will likely be dead money, but some savings too), recent history suggests that the team would be better off for it.
Only four of the past 18 Super Bowl winners had a receiver that earned a top 10, let alone top 5, salary for that position in that championship year.
Sidney Rice was placed on season-ending injured- reserve on Oct. 29, 2013, so the Seattle Seahawks didn’t really win a title with one of the top 10 highest- paid wideouts in the league.
Now, there are obviously several other factors in play that determine the success of an NFL offense such as the coaching staff and scheme. The rules of the game have also undergone significant changes in the past two decades.
Since the Ravens legendary defensive battered and bruised Baltimore to a title in 2001, the NFL has progressively become friendlier to players on the offensive side of the ball. Specifically, those heavily involved in the passing game.
The quarterback position factors is a critical element to a team's success as well.
Eleven of the past 18 Super Bowls have been won by four sure-fire hall-of-famers (Tom Brady of the New England Patriots (5), Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers (2), Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos (2), Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers (1), Drew Brees of the Saints (1).
The New York Giants Eli Manning (2) and the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson (1) might be in the Canton conversation one day.
That means that the Cowboys are betting more on 24-year- old Dak Prescott than a 29-year-old receiver to deliver the ultimate prize.
Here is a list of every Super Bowl champion, starting with the 2000-2001 season, how much the paid their top receiver, and where that cap-hit ranked in the NFL:
Super Bowl XXXV (2000-2001) Baltimore Ravens: Travis Taylor-$1.32 million (17th)
Super Bowl XXXVI (2001-2002): New England Patriots: Torrance Small-$500,000 (31st)
Super Bowl XXXVII (2002-2003): Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Keyshawn Johnson-$3.4 million (sixth)
Super Bowl XXXVIII (2003-2004): New England Patriots: Jabar Gaffney-$1.5 million (25th)
Super Bowl XXXIX (2004-2005): New England Patriots: Jabar Gaffney-$773,000 (44th)
Super Bowl XL (2005-2006): Pittsburgh Steelers: Hines Ward- $1.9 million (28th)
Super Bowl XLI (2006-2007): Indianapolis Colts: Marvin Harrison-$8.4 million (fourth)
Super Bowl XLII (2007-2008): New York Giants: Plaxico Burress-$4.9 million (12th)
Super Bowl XLIII (2008-2009): Pittsburgh Steelers: Hines Ward-6 million (15th)
Super Bowl XLIV (2009-2010): New Orleans Saints: Marques Colston-$3.7 million (31st)
Super Bowl XLV (2010-2011): Green Bay Packers: Donald Driver-$7.6 million (11th)
Super Bowl XLVI (2011-2012): New York Giants: Hakeem Nicks-$1.6 million (64th)
Super Bowl XLVII (2012-2013): Baltimore Ravens: Anquan Boldin-$7.5 million (12th)
*Super Bowl XLVIII (2013-2014): Seattle Seahawks: Sidney Rice-$9.7 million (third )
Super Bowl XLIX (2014-2015): New England Patriots: Danny Amendola-$4.7 million (26th )
Super Bowl 50 (2015-2016): Denver Broncos: Demariyus Thomas=$13.2 million (third)
Super Bowl LI (2016-2017): New England Patriots: Chris Hogan-$5.5 million (27th )
Super Bowl LII (2017-2018): Philadelphia Eagles: Alshon Jeffery-$10.8 million (12th )