Dez Bryant caught his last official pass on New Year’s Eve 2017. Since then, the former Dallas Cowboys star hasn’t played a single NFL down. But after spending the last few years mostly as a fan, the 31-year-old just found his next NFL team. And if he can become a consistent target for Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens should be considered the team to beat in the AFC.
Dez Bryant was a star for the Cowboys before injuries derailed his career
Considering he hasn’t played football in three years, it might be easy to forget that Dez Bryant once ranked as one of the top receivers in the NFL.
The Cowboys selected the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder with the 24th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Bryant flashed dominant ability as a rookie, totaling 561 yards and six touchdowns on 45 receptions.
After another solid campaign, he broke out with 92/1,382/12 in 2012. He went on to earn Pro Bowl honors in 2013, 2014, and 2016 while operating as the Cowboys’ No. 1 WR.
However, injuries took a toll on the big-bodied wideout. Bryant played just nine games in 2015 due to a fractured foot. The following year, he missed three games because of a hairline fracture in his knee. After playing all 16 games in 2017, Bryant found himself out of a job, as Dallas released him during the offseason.
Unfortunately for the three-time Pro Bowler, just two days after signing a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, he tore his Achilles during practice. Though Bryant has been loosely connected to a few NFL teams, he has yet to sign another contract.
Bryant just found his next NFL team
Through six games, the Ravens have averaged 29.8 points. Yet, Lamar Jackson could still use some more help at wide receiver.
Currently, Marquise Brown leads the team in catches (26) and receiving yards (376). However, receivers Miles Boykin and Willie Snead have each caught just 11 passes this season.
With a clear need at wideout, Baltimore will be adding Dez Bryant to the mix. On Thursday, Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter that the Ravens plan on signing the former Cowboys star to their practice squad if his “workout goes well and he passes a physical.”
Bryant, who turns 32 on Nov. 4, previously worked out for the Ravens in August. Assuming his workout goes well, the three-time Pro Bowler will now have a chance to catch passes from the league’s reigning MVP. In terms of potential landing spots, Bryant couldn’t have done much better than joining forces with the Ravens, who could very well be the team to beat in the AFC.
The Ravens are putting the pressure on the Chiefs
If the Ravens succeed in signing Dez Bryant, they should absolutely be considered a legitimate threat to topple the Chiefs from their AFC throne. Baltimore’s offense already ranks seventh in the NFL in scoring. Adding Bryant would give Jackson a big-bodied, physical possession receiver who he can target in critical situations. That would, in theory, give Brown and star tight end Mark Andrews more room to operate.
Plus, let’s not forget that the Ravens boast the best defense in the NFL. Baltimore’s top-ranked scoring defense has surrendered just 17.3 points per game. And on Thursday, that already-elite unit added another Pro Bowl piece in the form of Yannick Ngakoue.
Moving forward, the Ravens should be even more stout on that side of the ball. And if that proves to be the case, Jackson and the offense simply have to move the chains and be efficient in order to win.
Of course, considering how long he’s been away from the game, Bryant has to prove he can get open against defensive backs. Plus, he will have to learn Baltimore’s offense quickly in order to get on the field and start making plays.
But at the end of the day, adding a receiver with Bryant’s resume represents another home-run move for general manager Eric DeCosta. And if the Ravens can get meaningful contributions from the former Cowboys star, they will be a difficult offense to defend as the season continues.
Overall, Baltimore’s latest personnel moves will make it tough for the Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC again. As one of the most balanced teams in the NFL, the Ravens have all the components necessary to topple the defending Super Bowl champions.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.