Following the release of Dez Bryant on Friday, the Dallas Cowboys now lack the resume of a wide receiver with No. 1 skills.
The last time Bryant put up No. 1 receiver stats was in 2014 ,when he led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions and caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards. After he signed a five-year, $70 million deal, injuries, ineffective quarterback play in 2015 and a philosophical switch offensively following Tony Romo’s back injury in 2016 contributed to Bryant’s declining numbers.
By cutting Bryant, the Cowboys showed they believe they won’t have to replace the receiver who caught 41 touchdown passes from 2012-14, but rather the receiver who caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
The Cowboys currently have eight receivers on the roster, but only two (Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley) have caught more than six passes in a season wearing the star on their helmet.
Here is a look at who remains with Bryant gone, while acknowledging the Cowboys very well could take a receiver in the first two rounds of the upcoming NFL draft.
Terrance Williams: He is recovering from a broken foot suffered while working out earlier in the offseason but should be cleared to do at least some on-field work in June. He caught 53 passes for 568 yards last year, but for the first time in his career did not record a touchdown catch. He is durable, having never missed a game in his career, and has made big plays in big moments, but he does not have a 1,000-yard season to his credit.
Cole Beasley: In 2016, he was Dak Prescott’s favorite target, catching a team-high 75 passes for 833 yards and five touchdowns. But 2017 was a complete mystery as to how Beasley became a forgotten man. He caught just 36 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns. His yards per catch was lower than Jason Witten’s. Teams clamped down their coverage on Beasley and the coaches could not create ways to get him the ball.
Allen Hurns: He signed a two-year deal worth as much as $12 million after he was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars. At present, he looks like the receiver who will step into Bryant’s role. He has one 1,000-yard season, posting 64 catches for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2015. Over the last three seasons (36 games) he has 138 receptions for 1,992 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 38 games over the last three seasons, Bryant caught 150 passes for 2,035 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Deonte Thompson: He caught a career-high 38 passes for 555 yards and two touchdowns for the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season. In 11 games with the Bills, he caught 27 passes for 430 yards and a touchdown. He is the speed threat the Cowboys felt they lacked and signed a one-year deal worth a max of $2.5 million that included a $1 million signing bonus.
Ryan Switzer: A fourth-round pick last season, Switzer was mainly a return specialist as a rookie, taking one punt back for a touchdown. He caught six passes for 41 yards, working mostly behind Beasley in the slot.
Noah Brown: A seventh-round pick last season, Brown caught four passes for 33 yards but served mostly as a blocker. A great athlete, the Cowboys like his potential to develop as he enters his second season.
Lance Lenoir: He spent most of last season on the practice squad before a Week 17 call-up for the season finale. He caught six passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason.
KD Cannon: After a prolific career at Baylor, Cannon went undrafted last year and bounced around a few teams before joining the Cowboys’ practice squad for the final week of the season. He was signed to a futures deal in January.