Invariably as it seems to happen every single year, a certain segment of Saints fans want their team to sign any “big name” player that gets released, cut, or in this particular instance, an available but unsigned free agent veteran; without even taking into consideration if whether or not that same player would make a good fit in New Orleans.
Yesterday it happened once again, when it was announced that former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant was one of three veteran WR’s expected to work out for the Saints organization today, sending shockwaves across the NFL.
Almost immediately (as if “on cue”), some Saints fans began clamoring on Social Media for the team to sign Bryant; since they no doubt would love to see the former consensus All-Amercian WR at Oklahoma State University, in a Black and Gold uniform.
But putting the emotional overreactions of that very same segment of Saints supporters aside, here’s the biggest question:
What would be the actual “pros and cons” of signing Dez Bryant and putting him in the Saints offense?
Let’s take a quick look, beginning first with the best things Bryant can offer in a potential “hook-up” in NOLA:
THE PROS OF THE SAINTS SIGNING DEZ BRYANT
Say whatever you want about Bryant, but even though his numbers have dipped in recent seasons, he’s still a very capable receiver in what would be the 9th year of his NFL career in 2018.
With 119 catches, 1,634 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last two seasons, he has managed to stay fairly productive. Nevertheless, his biggest critics are quick to point out that he hasn’t gone over a 1,000 yards since the 2014 season nearly 4 years ago, when he had 16 TDs.
However to be fair: Bryant’s been very banged up and has battled through a series of nagging injuries during that time. When healthy, he STILL would be the top receiver on many NFL teams.
Even now at age 29 (he turns 30 in August), Dez remains as a physical force at the wide receiver position. He wins first against smaller DB’s at the line of scrimmage, and then uses his deceptive speed for his size to get open for the “big play”. And we all know that Saints head coach Sean Payton LOVES play-makers for his offensive scheme.
Grant it, the (7-1) Saints don’t really need Dez Bryant for their offense, given that they still have some of the very best offensive weapons in the NFC, and have some of the best play-makers in the entire League.
With receivers Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith and recently-added free agent Cam Meredith (when he actually plays) along with running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the Saints have plenty of firepower for quarterback Drew Brees.
Meaning that if Saints brass SERIOUSLY decides to pursue Bryant, they won’t be negotiating from a position of desperation, and can remain fully confident in their offense even if they don’t land him.
The bottom line is that IF Bryant can return to full health and is extremely motivated to prove every single one of his biggest critics wrong, the Saints might be able to get Bryant on a cheap, one-year deal. If he is actually willing to play on a team-friendly deal, the Saints should at the very least consider putting Dez in a Black and Gold uniform.
Which brings us to……
THE CONS OF THE SAINTS SIGNING DEZ BRYANT
Wow, where do we even begin?
Obviously there’s the lack of production, which was partially blamed on the Cowboys’ transition from a retired Tony Romo to now-starter Dak Prescott. Bryant averaged just over 52 yards per game last season, and while it’s clear that he was one of Romo’s favorite targets, the fact that he couldn’t succeed with another QB throwing him the ball is a concern for any potential suitor.
Albert Breer of SI.com reported that the Cowboys’ coaches began to see Bryant slip physically in 2015 and never thought that he was the same player he was when the Cowboys signed him to a five-year, $70 million contract in that same year. That physical decline is measurable according to Breer, and he noted that Bryant has lost inches on his vertical jump.
Then, there’s the injury concerns.
Bryant has dealt with a number of ailments the past 3 years: He’s battled foot, ankle, back, and knee injuries, which have caused him to miss 10 games the past three seasons (after stringing together 3 seasons of all 16 games played between 2012-2014). To his credit, Bryant was able to play all 16 games in 2017.
The lack of recent production and nagging injuries aside, the biggest con of the Saints signing Bryant would be his very notable emotional outbursts in games both on the field and on the sidelines — and how that would “mesh” with a now mostly-young Saints team that’s being built with players that are talented but also have been chosen for their high standards and good character.
While it’s easy to assume that Bryant would be given every opportunity for a “fresh start” in NOLA, the reality is that Bryant potentially could be a huge DISRUPTION for a Saints franchise that is surely trying to build a team filled with players who have no such issues as Bryant has had in the past.
Then of course, there’s the money.
As noted by NBC Sports / Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: Bryant was due a base salary of $12.5 million this year, and his level of play simply doesn’t justify anything close to that kind of salary anymore.
Which means that the Saints would have to convince Bryant to play for them “on the cheap”. In the end, that’s a decision that Bryant will likely be forced to make, no matter where he finally lands.
All in all: the idea of the Saints signing Dez Bryant comes with both a “pro” and a “con”. It could even turn out to be rewarding if they choose to do so.