General manager Dave Gettleman left the window cracked on Dez Bryant. It’s a long-shot the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver lands with the New York Giants, even though he has stated a desire to play for them and is training alongside Odell Beckham Jr. in Los Angeles. It's not impossible though.
Still it takes two to tango, and Gettleman began with a long laugh when asked if the Giants would be interested in Bryant after announcing they released wide receiver Brandon Marshall. He then added gasoline to the fire.
“I have interest in everybody,” Gettleman said. “We do our film work and you never know.”
And with that, the idea of Bryant to the Giants -- however unlikely -- isn't non-negotiable. It will now be lingering in the background until he signs with a new team.
The Giants are on Bryant's list. Right at the top. He’s on their list too -- just not near the top, especially with the draft on the horizon.
There are reasons to think it will or won’t happen. Let’s look:
Play: Bryant may not be the Pro Bowl receiver he once was, but he can still play. He's only 29. He caught 69 passes and scored six touchdowns last season and has the size and physicality that can allow him to catch the ball in contested spaces. The Giants need a wide receiver after cutting Marshall on Thursday. Bryant may not be able to create the same type of separation he did earlier in his career, but he can still make plays in any offense and be a valuable red zone threat. Just about any team would benefit from his contributions on the field.
Fit with Giants: Bryant, the player, makes sense for the Giants. He fills the need for the tall, possession receiver they were looking for when they signed Marshall. Bryant would be an ideal complement to Beckham and Sterling Shepard. His skill set, even as currently constituted, fills a void, especially in the red zone. Bryant has 14 touchdowns the past two seasons combined, with 10 coming inside the red zone.
Bryant also would seem to benefit from playing with quarterback Eli Manning, who isn’t shy to throw into tight windows. Manning was among the most aggressive tight-window throwers last season. With this in mind, it might work with him and Bryant.
Motivation: There is a reason that Bryant wants to land with the Giants, and it mostly has to do with sticking it to his former team. The Giants provide two opportunities a year. If Bryant signs with the Giants, it will likely be on a cheap, incentive-based contract (see below). He will need to play well in order to get paid next year. This will provide him with plenty of motivation for the upcoming season. More than most.
Culture: The Giants have stressed rebuilding their culture this offseason. It has been a primary focus of Gettleman and coach Pat Shurmur. Bryant’s had his fair share of problems and controversies in the past. He wasn’t happy with some in the Cowboys organization on his way out the door. Let’s just say that Bryant can sometimes be a lot to handle. This is the No. 1 reason his signing with the Giants is unlikely to happen. Add in that Bryant and Beckham would combine to make up a combustible wide receiver room, and it just doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Money: Bryant was scheduled to make $12.5 million this season before being released by the Cowboys. He’s not getting anywhere close to that with the Giants, who were barely $5 million under the salary cap prior to cutting Marshall. They have close to $10 million available afterward. Around half of that needs to be accounted for draft picks. The Giants are not going to hand Bryant a lucrative new deal. If anything, they have room for a smaller incentive-based deal. He can do better elsewhere if he desires.
The attention: Having Bryant in the building will only add to the eyes on the Giants this season. He’s an attraction and player of interest, even if he’s no longer a No. 1 receiver. People want to see what Bryant does, or if he will eventually explode. The Giants will be a sideshow with Beckham and Bryant on the same roster. And would it even be worth it?