The Dallas Cowboys have yet to make a decision on wide receiver Dez Bryant and his future with the team, though a resolution could come before the start of offseason workouts April 16.
The team is expected to ask Bryant to take a cut from his $12.5 million salary for next year or be cut. What is known is that the Cowboys are not comfortable with his salary and declining numbers over the past three years.
Bryant recognizes that his numbers last season were not up to par and has vowed to improve over the offseason.
One area of focus is improving his route running, which has long been considered a weakness in his game. To that end, he has solicited help from noted route-running guru David Robinson, who has worked with Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Denver Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders and former Cowboys receiver Brice Butler among others.
Robinson was interviewed on ESPN 103.3 FM Tuesday by Jean-Jacques Taylor and Clarence Hill of the Fort Star-Telegram (filling in for regular host Will Chambers) and here are five things we learned:
1. Bryant hasn't started working with Robinson yet
"He texted me the other day and said he is ready to get in the lab with me," Robinson said. "He has been out of town I believe. We have been back and forth texting the last few months. I applaud him for being open to it and reaching out to me. He hit me up. I didn't reach out to him. I like that."
Robinson plans to work with Bryant for two hours a day, three or four times a week. He said it won't take much time at all for Bryant to see some results and improvement.
2. What Bryant needs to work on
Robinson said Bryant needs to improve the top end of his routes, getting his arm mechanics back on tap and getting out his breaks with more of a sense of urgency.
"Another area we can fix in his game is the first five or 10 yards bursting off the football against press coverage," Robinson said. "He has a tendency to release wide a little bit. We are going to add a lot more tricks and press release techniques he can use to create separation. We are going to get Dez playing a lot faster at the line of scrimmage instead of messing round releasing wide, helping the defensive backs out."
When Bryant releases wide it not only helps the defensive back out, but it reduces the window for the quarterback to throw to and makes every ball seem like a 50-50 ball or jump pass where he has to make a spectacular catch.
3. Bryant still has juice left in the tank
While there is a lot of talk about Bryant getting older and declining, Robinson said he still has plenty juice left in the tank.
"He is a big physical specimen," Robinson said. "And when you are a big body like that and you run upon a defensive back fast you make him uncomfortable. That's our job as a receiver is to make him uncomfortable."
As the Cowboys all-time leader in touchdown receptions, Bryant has made a career out of making defensive backs uncomfortable. But there is no denying that his numbers, production and impact have declined over the past three years. Robinson believes Bryant can get back to his old dominance and old dog can learn new tricks.
"Someone his age and for him to make it this far in his game and still have so much room to grow is scary," Robinson said. "There is still a lot of stuff he can learn with his route running to create separation. He has done a great job making it this far on raw talent. I'm excited."
4. No animosity between Brice Butler and Bryant
Much was made of the comments Butler made after the season about being more productive than Bryant if given similar opportunities and not wanting to return as a free agent if not given a chance to start. Butler eventually signed with the Arizona Cardinals, but it was about what was best for his career and not any animosity toward Bryant.
In fact, it was Butler who turned Bryant on to Robinson. Butler has been working with Robinson for the past three years and passed his number to Bryant, who then reached out to Robinson.
5. Bryant is not the only Cowboys player working with Robinson
Cowboys receivers Ryan Switzer, Cole Beasley, Lance Lenoir, Noah Brown and tight end Rico Gathers have already been working with Robinson. They all got the connect from Butler as well.
"Brice doesn't bite his tongue when guys want to get extra work," Robinson said.
In addition to working with NFL stars, Robinson has also had in developing a lot of the areas top college recruiting prospects. He will be one of the coaches at the Emmanuel Sanders Youth Football Camp Saturday at John Paul High School in Plano. Clay Mack will work with the defensive backs.