Does Dez Bryant Have Anything Left? Signing Temperamental WR Is a Risk for Saints

It has taken him until Week 10 but Dez Bryant is back in the NFL after a seven-month hiatus.

Depending on who you believe, the wide receiver either expertly bided his time or faced a shortage of suitors, until the New Orleans Saints offered him a one-year deal on November 7.

Whatever the reason behind his wait—and it might well be a combination of both—the wideout now finds himself in one of the top teams in the league. The Saints are top of the NFC with a 7-1 record and on Sunday the inflicted a first defeat of the seasons on the Los Angeles Rams, who had steamrolled opponents at will up until then.

Why did the Saints sign Bryant?

New Orleans has the third-best offense in the NFL in terms of points scored and Drew Brees is in the form of his life, averaging a 76.3 completion rate and having already thrown for 2,336 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.

Prolific as their offense might be, the Saints option as wide receiver are worryingly thin. In his third year in the league Michael Thomas has exploded, hauling in 70 of his 79 targets for a combined 880 yards at an average of 12.6 yards per reception and five touchdowns.

However, he also accounted for 65 percent of receptions among wide receivers. Running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Ben Watson are team’s next main two leaders in targets with 66 and 32 respectively.

Among other wideouts, Ted Ginn Jr was placed on injured reserve last month after a promising start, leaving rookie Tre’Quan Smith as the number two option in the position. Signing Bryant should significantly ease Thomas’ workload.

GettyImages-894496420 (1) Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys walks off the field after their 20-17 win over the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 17, 2017 in Oakland, California. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

How good can Bryant be?

The Oklahoma State product needs no introduction. Bryant was the Cowboys’ leader in touchdown catches and recorded at least 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns between 2012 and 2014. When the Cowboys released him in April, he left Dallas as the franchise leader in touchdowns and is ranked third and fifth in total receptions and receiving yards respectively.

However, the foot and knee injuries he suffered in 2015 and 2016 appear to have taken their toll.

The Texas native hasn't had more than 1,000 yards receiving since 2014 and recorded just 69 catches, 838 yards and six touchdowns last year, despite playing all of the Cowboys' 16 games.

Bryant blamed his decline in production to Dallas’ decision to replace Tony Romo with rookie Dak Prescott. Playing alongside another veteran in the shape of Brees could help him.

Why did Bryant sign for the Saints?

After being released by Dallas, Bryant stated he wanted to remain in the NFC East, somewhat limiting his options. That particular plan never got off the ground as the Redskins, Giants and Eagles had no interest in him and Bryant subsequently turned down a potential multi-year deal with the Ravens, hinting he would prefer a one-year contract instead.

Bryant, who turned 30 on November 4, now has the one-year deal he craved and gets the chance to play for one of the best teams in the NFL. His plan to use his spell in New Orleans to guarantee himself a big-money contract next year—with the Saints or elsewhere—is laden with risks but don’t bet against him.

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