The Cleveland Browns may soon have competition in the race to sign Dez Bryant as an injury to Marqise Lee leaves the Jaguars in search of a big receiver.
After leaving Cleveland without a deal, the most obvious path to a new team for Dez Bryant was to replace an injured star. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, losing Marqise Lee may push them into the market for a big bodied receiver like Bryant.
Lee suffered an illegal hit to his knee against the Falcons and immediately went down in significant pain. He laid on the ground for several minutes after the hit before being transported directly to the Jaguars’ locker room. The team promptly announced that he wouldn’t be returning to the game. It’s very likely he’ll require an MRI next week before the team can truly determine the extent of his injury.
The Jaguars didn’t post a prolific passing attack in 2017, but Lee was the team’s most productive receiver. He led Jacksonville with 56 catchers for 702 yards and three touchdowns. Those aren’t great numbers in a vacuum, but he was one of Blake Bortles’ favorite targets. Lee’s big body allows him to post a large catch radius that helped make up for some of Bortles’ inaccurate throws.
The team did spend a second round pick on D.J. Chark, but he is more of a project. The idea was that he would spend at least a season or two learning his craft under Lee before he would be relied upon as a starter. If Lee misses significant time, the Jaguars will be forced to accelerate Chark’s timeline or try to acquire a replacement.
Given Jacksonville’s status a legitimate Super Bowl contender they should be looking for a more established option. Bryant is definitely the best free agent option available. He’s not a great option to play as a No. 1 wide receiver on the boundary, but he does have the size that Bortles needs in a go-to wideout. The Jaguars’ ability to run the football would also allow Bryant to work against single coverage on a regular basis. Jacksonville could be a destination where Bryant could flourish and really help a team contend for a title.
At the very least, look for the Jaguars to sound out Bryant and his representatives about his interest in coming to Jacksonville. He’s not good enough to replace all of Marqise Lee’s production, but he represents the team’s best option at this point in the preseason.