Hard Knocks may be over but that doesn’t mean the Browns are done making deals. Dez Bryant may still be headed to Cleveland.
When Dez Bryant left Cleveland without agreeing to a deal with the Browns during the preseason most people expected the talented wideout and the team to move on. Neither party has done that. In fact, the odds of Bryant inking a deal with the Browns are going to increase dramatically very soon.
According to sources in Cleveland, John Dorsey is very open to the idea of reaching out to Bryant again next week. Signing a veteran player after the regular season begins is a much safer option for teams. Instead of guaranteeing 100 percent of a player’s salary the team is only responsible for 25 percent if the player is inked after Week 1.
The reduction in guaranteed money could be just what the two parties need to get a deal done. Initially, the Browns offered Bryant a deal with a base salary of just under $5 million. Predictably, Bryant wanted the ability to make a lot more money. Dorsey and the Browns weren’t interested in offering him a big-money, one-year deal that would allow him to get back on the free agent market after the season.
The team may be much more open to giving Bryant some potential salary upside if they’re in a position to reduce their risk. For example, the Browns might be willing to offer him a contract worth $8 million per season if they are only on the hook for $2 million if things don’t work out. If it’s a question of mitigating risk, the team will be in a much stronger negotiating position after the conclusion of Week 1.
It’s in Bryant’s best interest to find a team sooner rather than later. His chances of having a big season to reestablish his value to the rest of the NFL are entirely dependent on finding a system where he can thrive. Part of that calculation for Bryant has to be getting enough time to learn a new team’s system. The longer he sits out, the tougher it’s going to be for him to get up and running with a new team.
None of this means Bryant signing with the Browns is imminent, but it’s still his most likely destination. If no team suffers a significant injury to a star receiver in their opener, the odds favor Bryant ending up in Cleveland next week.