Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is officially ready take meetings with NFL teams vying for his services. Just one destination is confirmed so far: Cleveland.
Bryant, who has been very active on Twitter this off-season since being released by the Cowboys in April, announced his upcoming meeting with Browns general manager John Dorsey with a tweet sent out partway through the team’s pre-season debut.
The 29-year-old has been tweeting up a storm to fuel the fire of where he’ll land, saying earlier Thursday that he “wouldn’t mind playing for the Browns.”
The timing of Bryant’s tweet had many on NFL Twitter coming to the conclusion that he wanted to get a first glimpse of the team’s on-field performance before committing to a meeting — especially when it came to the club’s situation at quarterback. While pre-season performances need to be taken with a grain (or, several grains) of salt, the Browns’ duo of Tyrod Taylor and Baker Mayfield would have given Bryant plenty to like in their win over the New York Giants. Taylor, currently the No. 1 guy on Hue Jackson’s squad, saw very limited playing time but he completed all five of his passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Mayfield looked comfortable in his rookie debut, completing 11 of 20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 13 yards in key situations.
Bryant was definitely watching, even live-tweeting part of it while also interacting with fans excited by the idea of him suiting up for Cleveland.
Cleveland hasn’t exactly been a prime destination for big-name free agents, what with their winless season in 2017, 1-15 campaign the year before, and front office instability. But the rebuilding club is seeing plenty of time in the spotlight — thanks in part to HBO’s Hard Knocks — with a newly-formed young nucleus complemented by some significant off-season gains.
As far as roster fit goes, this union makes sense. Bryant provides a big veteran presence and a deep threat to balance out the field opposite Josh Gordon, whose return to the team is still shrouded in a bit of mystery. Bryant would be taking the place of Corey Coleman, who was shipped off to the Buffalo Bills earlier this week after failing to reach his first-round potential through two injury-filled seasons. Betting site OddsShark has had the Browns listed as the odds-on favourite to land Bryant, and if it’s a one-year pact to launch the second chapter of his career, this could be beneficial for both sides in need of a rebound.
While Bryant isn’t what he once was, but he’s also not far removed from his days as an elite receiver. He registered 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns in 2014, and still holds the NFL record for most touchdowns since 2012 (58).
Bryant has also been adamant that he is indeed going to play this season — and likely the next three years — but it’ll be on his own terms and timeline.
Earlier this off-season, it was thought that Bryant was eying the New York Giants for the second chapter of his career — he’s friends with Giants star Odell Beckham Jr., and staying in the NFC East would mean guaranteed matchups against his old team in Dallas. The Baltimore Ravens were also reportedly interested in signing him, but Bryant wasn’t willing to ink a deal.