Cowboys release receiver Dez Bryant after eight years in Dallas

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It's official: Dez Bryant's career as a Cowboy is over. Dallas released it's former star receiver after eight years Friday, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and the team.

Months of speculation over his future comes to an end with the decision, which reportedly came after a surprisingly short meeting between Bryant and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The 29-year-old's steadily declining play over the past three seasons, as well as his hefty $16.5 million cap hit in 2018, are the likely reasons for his release. 

Only eight receivers are due $12 million or more in 2018, of which Bryant was the only one to have averaged less than 1000 receiving yards per season (678) over the past three NFL campaigns. The 2014 first-team All Pro selection has failed to top 1000 yards since 2014 and his physical decline has been all to obvious on the field. 

He's lacked the speed to separate from defenders downfield in recent times, and that's exposed his limited route running ability. Additionally, he's struggled to make a connection on and off the field with Dak Prescott since the latter took over the starting QB job from Tony Romo in 2016.

In all, Bryant has failed to live up to the five-year, $70 million contract he signed three years ago and the decision to cut him seems a shrewd one from the Cowboys, who will likely look to add young talent at the position in the draft later this month. 

The free agent-to-be took to his Twitter account to express his gratitude to the organisation and it's fans, as well as a willingness to kickstart 'the process' of finding himself a new NFL home. 

And, if he can help it, it seems like Bryant would be keen to stay in the NFC East to ensure he can play against his former squad twice a year. The potential matchup between Dez and the Cowboys young defensive backs is a mouthwatering prospect, as is the thought of him lining up in a uniform belonging to the Eagles, Redskins or Giants in Dallas.

Bryant will become an unrestricted free-agent, and he'll undoubtedly find a space on the roster of a receiver-needy team. Though he'll certainly have to take a lot less money than he's been earning in Dallas over the past few years. 

On that note, Rapoport also reported that the three-time Pro Bowler wasn't even offered a pay cut to stay in Dallas:

As for the Cowboys, Jerry Jones released the following statement on Bryant and the respect he has for him: 

A pair of the Cowboys' young cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie also took to Twitter to express their admiration for their now former teammate. 

The former first round pick leaves the Cowboys as the franchise leader in touchdown receptions with 73, and their fifth all-time leading receiver with 7459 yards. 

He's already getting attention from suitors around the league, including the 'Honey Badger' Tyrann Mathieu who was also cut this offseason before joining the Houston Texans. 

Despite the past few years of limited production, Bryant will go down as one of the finest receivers to don the famous star, and he'll be a fan favourite in Dallas for the rest of his life. 

The job now falls to Jerry and Stephen Jones to find a suitable replacement for their charismatic wideout. The Cowboys current crop of wideout's is hardly awe inspiring and with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft they could well pull the trigger on a young receiver. 

The two big names to watch out for at that spot are Calvin Ridley and DJ Moore, but they could wait until round two where Courtland Sutton, Antonio Callaway and Christian Kirk could be options. 

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