In a move that is believed to be more about bolstering a thin wide receiver corps than dumping Antonio Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys on Friday signed unrestricted free agent Dedric Ward, who originally entered the NFL as a Bill Parcells draft choice.
Ward, 29, split the 2003 season between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots, appearing in six games and notching seven receptions for 106 yards. He signed a one-year contract that includes a $660,000 base salary.
Team sources said the addition of the journeyman Ward is not a precursor to any decision about Bryant's future with the franchise. Bryant, a third-year veteran, was involved in an altercation with Parcells and Cowboys assistant coaches on Tuesday during a minicamp practice.
Bryant has not practiced since and has returned to his home in Miami. Speculation has swirled about his future in Dallas, but indications are that the Cowboys do not plan to release or trade the former second-round draft choice.
Even before the Bryant imbroglio, the Cowboys were thin at wide receiver, and it is not unusual that Parcells would call on a player with whom he is familiar to perhaps bolster the position. Ward earlier this offseason weighed the possibility of retirement and said that if he opted to play he hoped his next job would be for more than one season.
The seven-year veteran began his career with the New York Jets in 1997, when Parcells chose him in the third round, the 88th player chosen overall that year. He played for four seasons in New York, the first three of those under Parcells, then signed with Miami as a free agent in 2001. After two seasons with the Dolphins, he joined the Ravens.
In 94 games, Ward has 166 receptions for 2,302 yards and 12 touchdowns. His best year came with the Jets in 2000, when he had 54 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns. The former Northern Iowa standout has also returned 109 punts for an 8.4-yard average.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.