FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – His days as a Dallas Cowboy are now over. Today team owner Jerry Jones officially released wide receiver Dez Bryant.
The exact details of the meetings aren’t known, but Bryant was expected to be asked to accept a pay cut on his $12.5 million salary and apparently that wasn’t something he was willing to do.
Bryant was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2010, but instead of starting his ninth season with the silver and blue he is now an unrestricted free agent. ESPN is also reporting that Bryant will not be designated a post-June 1 cut, which means $8.5 million in salary cap space has been freed up for the Cowboys to use immediately.
The decision on Bryant’s future was made after the star wide receiver sat down for a meeting with Jones at team headquarters. Jones arrived at The Star in Frisco before 9:00 a.m. and Bryant was dropped off a little after 11:00 a.m.
News of Bryant’s release spread quickly and Jones immediately issued a statement that said:
“As an organization we hold Dez Bryant in the highest regard, and we are grateful for his passion, spirit and contributions to this team for the past eight years. He will always be a valued member of our family.
Dez and I share a personal and professional relationship that is very strong, and he is one of just a handful of players with whom I have become that close to over the past 30 years.
This was not an easy decision. It was made based upon doing what we believe is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys.
We arrived at this crossroad collectively with input from several voices within the organization. Ultimately we determined it was time to go in a new direction.”
After Jones put out the statement Bryant had an interesting rebuttal tweet pointing out the “voices within the organization” that Jones referenced.
Bryant had already been talking about the situation on Twitter. He tweeted Thursday that he is “unbothered” by the media talk about his future with the Cowboys organization. He also retweeted many fans who sent him messages of love. A push on social media asked Cowboys fans to wear Bryant’s No. 88 in support.
Dallas attempted to sign free agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins as well, but he ended up with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The NFL Draft is also coming to Arlington later this month, and the Cowboys have the 19th overall pick. If they were to select another wide receiver, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan that it would not affect the Bryant situation. “That’s a separate category,” Jones said then.
The influx of wide receivers, Jones explained, was to “heat up the competition at that spot.”
Bryant is a three-time Pro Bowler and has been one of the NFL’s most elite receivers during his time in Dallas. He had 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns while playing in every Cowboys game last season. But he had not had 1,000 receiving yards in a season since he was an All-Pro in 2014.
After his release Bryant tweeted that the explosive player of old will be what shows up on the field in the future.
Last month, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett also said that Thompson and Hurns were not signed in anticipation of cutting Bryant. “We love Dez,” Garrett said. “Dez has been a great player for us for a long time. Any speculation about his contract or anything like that is irrelevant to the signings we made.”
Cowboys fans are hoping to hear more about the situation from both Jerry Jones and Bryant later on Friday.