Could former Oklahoma State All-American and Dallas Cowboys All-Pro WR Dez Bryant possibly see action along with Drew Brees and the Saints offense as soon as this Sunday afternoon when the team visits Cincinnati to play the Bengals?
While it seems unlikely to happen since the 30-year old hasn't agreed as of yet to any type of an official contract (which he and the Saints are said to be currently negotiating) and would also have to learn / get himself acclimated to the offense first, it still can't be completely ruled out either — given the at-times controversial 9th year veteran's notable passion and desire for playing the sport.
As reported first last night by the NFL Network: the Saints and Bryant were still trying to work out a deal although a team source told the network that any decision would not likely come until later today (Wednesday).
The team flew in Bryant yesterday for a private workout in front of the offensive coaching staff at the team's suburban NOLA (Metairie) Practice / Training Facility and liked how he performed, but the Galveston, Texas native still left town without a deal.
The interest in Bryant comes at a time when New Orleans is seeking to add some quality depth at the WR position; which has been left short-handed after being hit with a series of key injuries.
3rd year veteran TommyLee Lewis just recently returned last week from injured reserve after injuring his knee during a punt return against the Browns in Week #2; but not before 12th year veteran Ted Ginn Jr. was placed on injured and lost for the remainder of the season in Week # 7, with a knee injury of his own.
Making matters worse: 4th year veteran Cam Meredith, who was signed this past off-season, hasn't been able to completely heal as originally anticipated from a major knee surgery he suffered in the 2017 Pre-Season with the Chicago Bears and remains limited. Meredith only has nine catches for 114 yards with one touchdown in 8 games.
As a direct result, this year's rookie 3rd Round draft pick and former University of Central Florida star Tre'Quan Smith has played the majority of the snaps as the team's designated #2 wide receiver; and while he has clearly shown the potential to eventually become an NFL "superstar", the absences of Lewis, Ginn, and Meredith have allowed opposing defenses to double-team #1 WR Michael Thomas in an effort (although not always successfully) to shut down the Saints passing game.
It's for that very reason why New Orleans would still likely benefit from adding a another capable player at the position — especially one of Bryant's undeniable talent when he's playing healthy and mentally focused.
The Cowboys released Bryant back in April; after the 3-time Pro Bowl receiver caught 69 passes for 838 yards with 6 TD's last year in 2017.
Bryant's best season ever in his entire NFL career up to this point. came 4 years ago when he was still considered to be in his "prime" during the 2014 Regular Season. That year, Bryant was the #1 WR in the entire NFL; as he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards with a whopping 16 touchdowns.
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 that same 2014 season.
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.
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 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.
As noted last night by New Orleans Advocate beat writer Nick Underhill: at best, Bryant would be the second option for the Saints offense at wide receiver, and third overall behind running back Alvin Kamara.
Underhill says that the team wouldn't need Dez to "carry the load" in the same way that he did while with Dallas; and they'd only need him to add more production numbers-wise to what the Saints have been getting from its other receivers besides Thomas.
His most likely "role" within the Saints offensive scheme would probably come at the flanker spot, as a big-bodied target in the team's red zone and goal line packages.
One interesting aspect of a possible signing of Dez Bryant for the #Saints are red zone looks and opportunities.
Payton has mentioned the constant need to improve here, and currently they are converting 71% of their trips (6th in NFL). Trying to go to completely unstoppable?
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) November 6, 2018
The lack of recent production and nagging injuries aside, the biggest drawback of the Saints signing Bryant would be his very notable emotional outbursts in past 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.
However, it's also been reported that Sean Payton has always liked Dez, and allegedly both he and the Saints organization have very few (if any) concerns about Dez's character.
Bottom line: the Saints are in "win now" mode and have their sights set on getting back to the Super Bowl — and if the reports are indeed actually true, then they apparently feel that Dez is a player who can help them get there.
Could Bryant possibly even see some game action as soon as this coming Sunday at Cincinnati, along with Drew Brees and the rest of the Saints offense?
For a Saints team that very obviously has its sights set on much bigger and better things at the end of the season, nothing should be ruled out any more....