Dez Bryant might be cut by the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.
Or he might not.
Either way, the talented wideout will meet with Jerry Jones on Friday, and the owner and general manager is likely to put forth an ultimatum: Take a pay cut or you’re going to get cut.
Because team activities start next week, many expect a definitive answer this weekend. Otherwise, if Bryant participates in said activities, it could create a very uncomfortable situation.
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And if he gets hurt in those drills, his $12.5 million salary becomes guaranteed for this season. Bryant is set to make the same amount and count the same against the cap for the 2019-20 season.
The Cowboys don’t have to make a decision Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
One potential reason they might consider holding off on giving Bryant the boot is to explore trade options (if they’ve haven’t already been doing so). And the best time and place to do so is right here in Arlington at the NFL Draft, which will take place April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium.
Yes, the most logical course for a team interested in acquiring Bryant would be to wait until he gets cut and see whether he can be signed for far less than his current $16.5 million cap hit.
However, there are plenty of teams that are in need of a quality pass catcher and have plenty of cap room. If there’s a general manager out there who wants Bryant bad enough to keep him from hitting the market, it would probably take only a sixth- or seventh-round pick to do so.
Here are five possible trade candidates. All cap figures are from Spotrac.com as of April 11, 2018.
Cleveland Browns ($70,806,106)
Notable pass-catchers on roster: Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, David Njoku (tight end)
Why it would work: Coleman has elite talent but has managed to play only 19 games in his professional two seasons due to injuries. And Gordon’s infamous history of suspensions due to substance abuse could bring on another lengthy suspension.
Why it wouldn’t: Landry has been vocal about demanding the ball throughout his career. Gordon and Bryant have similar skill sets.
Indianapolis Colts ($61,387,376)
Notable wide receivers on roster: T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant, Eric Ebron (tight end)
Why it would work: Hilton would draw the most attention from opposing defenses, which would provide Bryant with plenty of opportunities. Quarterback Andrew Luck has the necessary leadership skills to manage Bryant’s occasionally volatile personality.
Why it wouldn’t: If Luck’s injury troubles persist, then backup Jacoby Brissett takes over. If he doesn’t get Bryant the ball, Bryant's personality might dominate.
San Francisco 49ers ($38,960,900)
Notable wide receivers on roster: Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Aldrick Robinson
Why it would work: Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, personality and experiences with Julio Jones in Atlanta could bring out the best in Bryant. Newly acquired franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has a similar skill set to that of Tony Romo (both Romo and Garoppolo attended Eastern Illinois), who thrived with Bryant during their years with the Cowboys.
Why it wouldn’t: Bryant might end up trying to walk all over the first-time starter. If that happens, you could end up with another awkward relationship between wide receiver and quarterback.
Chicago Bears: ($32,986,752)
Notable wide receivers on roster: Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Kevin White, Trey Burton (tight end)
Why it would work: Injuries, injuries and more injuries. Robinson was brought in to be the number one option, but he’s coming off anterior cruciate ligament surgery, which he had last September. White has missed all but five games in his two pro seasons due to various injuries.
Why it wouldn’t: If the entire receiving corps stays healthy, then that position group should be fine. Bryant would also be joining a team with a 39-year-old, first-year head coach in Matt Nagy. In addition, he’d be playing with a second-year quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky who has started only 13 games in college and 10 games in the NFL.
New York Jets: ($26,209,045)
Notable wide receivers on roster: Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa, Devin Smith
Why it would work: Bryant would become New York’s most-established receiving option, and he loves the spotlight. Last season, fourth-year head coach Todd Bowles and veteran quarterback Josh McCown seemed to quash some of the dysfunction that had defined the organization.
Why it wouldn’t: If this franchise drafts a quarterback at No. 3 overall, there could be a three-way quarterback battle. That will likely lead to a lack of continuity on offense.