Dez Bryant has hinted that he’s close to a return to the NFL in recent weeks, generating rampant speculation on where the former All-Pro could land.
After being released by the Cowboys last season, Bryant had his much-anticipated signing last season in New Orleans last season cut short by an Achilles injury on just his second day of practice with the team.
It’s been about seven months since the former Cowboys star suffered the injury, but he looked close to 100 percent in training videos he published showing his recovery.
If he makes a full recovery and is even a shadow of his old self, Bryant would be one of the more intriguing free agents on the market. He’d no doubt come at a bargain price and could be a key cog for a contender.
Bryant had an elite stretch with the Cowboys from 2012-14, putting up three consecutive 1,000-yard plus and double-digit touchdown seasons. He hasn’t hit either of those benchmarks since.
While Bryant is 30 years old and coming off a serious injury that might change how explosive he can be at a position that needs it, Josina Anderson of ESPN reported that there have been team checking in on Bryant through the rehab process.
“No,” Anderson said on Twitter recently when asked if Bryant’s NFL prospects were finished. “Last I heard he was looking stronger on his 10 (to) 15 (yard) bursts (and) looking more comfortable with his curl (and) intermediate routes when he has to stop and plant with no pain on the Achilles during that motion. I know a few NFL teams have been reaching out inquiring (about) his progress.”
With that said, here are three of the most likely landing spots for Bryant if he does make an NFL comeback.
New Orleans Saints
It would make sense for the Saints to give Bryant another shot after his previous stint with the team was cut short by injury. After all, there’s a reason they signed him in the first place.
While Michael Thomas is among the league’s best, depth is not something the Saints have in spades. Bryant would be a nice red zone target from Drew Brees and would come at a bargain price. His last contract with the team featured a base salary of just $588,235.
However, Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t sound too excited about the prospect of bringing Bryant back when asked about it this offseason.
“I just know he’s been rehabbing,” Payton said. “I wouldn’t be able to forecast the future relative to Dez.”
Would a reunion be welcome in Dallas? It could be, especially if Bryant doesn’t carry the price tag he once did for the squad.
Bryant would provide some depth and a familiar target for quarterback Dak Prescott in clutch situations. Amari Cooper is the team’s No. 1 option, and while Michael Gallup has shown some potential as the No. 2 wide receiver, some tutelage from a Cowboy great would be nice — that is, if Bryant was willing to mentor the second-year pass-catcher and take on a smaller role in the offense.