Dez Bryant is back in the NFL, and he is joining one of the league’s top Super Bowl contenders. The former Dallas Cowboys receiver agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced. Bryant’s salary was not immediately known.
Sources told Schefter that Bryant, who will sign the deal Thursday, is comfortable proving what he can do for a contending team this season before becoming a free agent again.
Although the Saints (7-1) have a seven-game win streak and are the No. 2 scoring team in the NFL, they are thin on proven receivers. Veteran Ted Ginn Jr. was placed on injured reserve last month with a knee injury, and Cameron Meredith hasn’t panned out as hoped since joining the team as a restricted free agent, with zero targets over the past three games.
Pro Bowler Michael Thomas is the only Saints receiver with more than 12 catches this season.
The Saints are rolling the dice a bit that Bryant will be a good locker room fit with a team that is on such a good run. But they did the same thing when they traded for former New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple last month.
New Orleans appears to be all-in on a Super Bowl run, with 39-year-old quarterback Drew Brees having one of the best seasons of his career as the Saints continue to make aggressive moves to fill holes in the lineup. They also traded for backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater late in the preseason.
Bryant, who turned 30 on Sunday, had been on the open market since he was released by Dallas in April, when he was due to receive $12.5 million.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was among the NFL’s best in his prime. He recorded three straight seasons of at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns from 2012 to 2014, and he earned Pro Bowl invites in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
But his production had been slipping in recent years as he battled foot and knee injuries; he had 69 catches for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns in 16 games played last year. And the Cowboys were ultimately ready to move on from what executive vice president Stephen Jones described as a “fiery” personality that could sometimes be a “distraction.”
Jones also set off Bryant when he suggested in a SiriusXM Radio interview in July that there was added pressure on young Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott with Bryant and veteran tight end Jason Witten “in his ear.”
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SOURCE: ESPN, Mike Triplett