As a group, the Dallas Cowboys are admittedly down in the dumps about their own failing situation at 3-5. But they were perked up and excited about the news of former teammate Dez Bryant signing a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday.
Bryant, 30, the Cowboys all-time leader in touchdown receptions, has been unemployed since being released on April 13 after eight combustible, but often spectacular seasons.
Receiver Cole Beasley sent Bryant a congratulatory tweet and linebacker Jaylon Smith did the same while adding he wanted to swap jerseys with Bryant when the two teams meet AT&T Stadium on November 29.
Equally giddy running back Ezekiel Elliott swapped text messages with Bryant after getting off the practice field, telling him congrats as well, while already anticipating the homecoming matchup at the end of the month.
“It’ll be exciting to face Dez, especially with him coming to his home here,” Elliott said. “It’ll be good to see him. They’re getting a great receiver. He goes up and attacks the ball better than I’ve seen anyone. He’s definitely a special player and I’m glad he got picked up and I’m glad something worked out for him.”
Said coach Jason Garrett: “Dez is a great player. Dez was a great player in this organization for a long time. Really happy for him and that opportunity. I know it’s important to him. He wants to finish his career strong. He’s done such a great job for this organization and been an impact player in this league over the course of his eight years playing. Seems like a real good opportunity for him. I know he’ll help their team.”
Elliott said he is not necessarily surprised it took Bryant this long to find a team because he believes his former teammate was trying to find the best fit for him.
Bryant turned down an offer from the Baltimore Ravens in April. He also had a visit with the Cleveland Browns during the preseason before finally signing with the Saints with eight games left to go in the season.
A happy defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said Bryant landed in a great spot and he’s going to be ready to go.
”That’s big for him. I’m happy for Dez,” Crawford said. “I’ve seen the way he was. I got to hook up with him a couple of weeks back, and I’ve saw the way he looked and he was. He looks like an animal right now, just hoping for the best for him. He’s a good friend of mine, so I’m hoping for the best for him.”
Despite his combustible reputation, Elliott said Bryant going to be a great teammate in New Orleans and there should be no worries how is going to fit in. He said the Saints are getting a passionate player who loves the game.
“Ever since I got here, Dez was nothing but a help for me,” Elliott said. “Right when I got here, he took me under his wing. You’re getting a very passionate football player. You’re getting a very passionate individual. I think sometimes that’s looked at the wrong way. From the people who love this game, who’ve played, they can understand that about it being somewhat harder for other people to figure that out. I think he’s going to be a good veteran for that team. He’s already got a lot of great weapons. There’s nothing like adding another sharp tool to that toolbox.”
Given that the Cowboys play the Saints on Nov. 29, and understanding he will be motivated to have a big game, Garrett was asked if he wished Bryant signed with a different team.
The coach, however, said he was just happy Bryant is finally getting a chance to play again.
“I’m happy for Dez. I’m happy he has an opportunity to go play and finish the right way,” Garrett said. “It will be a great environment for him to go out and make an impact.”
The more the Cowboys talked the more it sunk home how scary an already-good Saints team, which leads the NFL with a 7-1 record and top weapons in quarterback Drew Brees, running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas, is going to be with the addition of Bryant.
Elliott had to catch himself and reset the conversation in the locker room for a desperate Cowboys team getting ready for a must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I mean that is a scary offense but we are talking about the Cowboys,” Elliott said with a laugh. “I am not about to get on a tangent on the Saints.”