INDIANAPOLIS — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones is not opposed to Dez Bryant’s return to the franchise. The wide receiver was released following the 2017 season.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot in the shower,” Jones said Thursday. “I have been. I’m not dismissing it. I don’t want to sound like it should be dismissed by saying it. I’m thinking about it.”
Bryant has been working out just yards away from the team facility in Frisco, Texas, as he attempts to return after two years away from game action because of a torn Achilles tendon. Bryant suffered the injury in his first practice with the New Orleans Saints in 2018. He was not on an NFL roster in 2019 but has been working out regularly, planning for a comeback.
Bryant, 31, most recently played in a game on Dec. 31, 2017, for the Cowboys. He was released in part because of an $18 million base salary and declining production. After signing a five-year, $70 million deal in 2015, Bryant was slowed by injuries that kept him out of 10 games in 2015 and ’16. He caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
The Cowboys selected Bryant in the first round of the 2010 draft and he is the franchise leader in touchdown receptions with 73. He caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and was a three-time Pro Bowl pick.
“He’s had a serious injury,” Jones said. “He’s been out a little bit, but Dez is a great player and the obvious [question] is the obvious: Is he still a great player? We know Dez better than anybody. I know him better than, I’m going to say anybody.”
Bryant reached out to executive vice president Stephen Jones this offseason about a return. Earlier in the week, Stephen Jones said it was something the staff would look at, but the team’s focus has been on its own players with free agency approaching.
Bryant had harsh words for some teammates, such as Sean Lee and Travis Frederick, after he was cut. He had been critical of former coach Jason Garrett as well, but Garrett has been replaced by Mike McCarthy.
Jerry Jones said those issues “are reparable. They really are because the very best of Dez is what I remember. The very best of him. I remember a lot of good things [that] far overshadow the negatives for me as a player. Now the question is, can he perform and can he overcome that injury and can he get in the kind of shape that it takes to be available?”
Bryant tweeted his support of Jones’ comments:
Let’s get it!!! https://t.co/5icBrAatnY
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) February 27, 2020
Bryant was not the only topic Jones touched on during an 80-minute session on his luxury bus from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
On talks with quarterback Dak Prescott: “For all practical purposes, I mean it, this is a deal that ultimately I have to do. And when I say do, I have to sign the check, OK? So it’s got to fit. It just has to fit and it has to fit a lot of things. For me this is not about Dak. It’s about the team and about how to win and that’s not being in any way negative. I think the world of Dak. But it’s about the team and if it doesn’t feel right, it won’t happen.” Jones said the possibility of Prescott missing some or all of the offseason program if the team uses the franchise tag on him is not an issue. “It’s a technicality. Certainly have and going to keep his rights. To be trite, we’re not going to let a technicality issue the thing,” he said. “No, it’s not a concern of mine. Dak understands. In my mind one of the great things about Dak is his commitment to building a team. I don’t have an issue there. … That’s just the reality of the thing. I am not in any way going to not have his rights, for one minute.”
On the new collective bargaining agreement: “It’s critical to recognize how valuable the perception is of going forward together for the next several years, the clubs and the players, what that could mean for us as far as having money for everybody.”
On Jason Witten returning as a player for a 17th season: “I feel like he can play and I would hope he would not ever be anything but a Cowboy. It’s meaningful,” Jones said of the tight end. Witten has said he wants to continue to play but said he is open to playing elsewhere. Jones said the potential holdup in a return would be Witten’s willingness to accept a different role.
On adding somebody to the Ring of Honor in 2020: “Right now, it’s not on my mind at all, it is not. Regarding [Jimmy Johnson, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame], we have such a big year ahead of us with Jimmy, and his celebration. I want that to be the focus, period. If everybody says, ‘Is that the right order of things?’, well, Coach [Tom] Landry was in the Hall of Fame before the Ring of Honor. Here we’ve got the two greatest coaches in the history of the Cowboys, so they can go in the same order.”