One of the most popular names associated with the Cleveland Browns this summer isn’t even on their roster. However, he might end up being added if his visit with the team goes well tomorrow.
I’m talking, of course, about former Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. Still looking for a team to sign with, the three-time Pro Bowler has been linked to the Browns in the rumor mill for the past few weeks. The two sides appear set to meet tomorrow to determine if Bryant is worth signing.
If you asked me when the rumors first started if I’d like to see the receiver in Cleveland, I may have said I’m on board.
If you ask me today, I’ll tell you I’m not. The risks of signing Bryant far outweigh the potential rewards.
I certainly understand Cleveland’s decision to kick the tires here. The team’s depth at wideout is questionable, with only Jarvis Landry looking like a sure thing. Josh Gordon is still on his self-imposed hiatus. Antonio Callaway, while talented, still needs to prove he can stay out of trouble.
Despite these question marks, I still think the pile of concerns which would come from signing Bryant is too high.
Many are quick to point out the obvious issues – his declining production, his approaching the back-end of his prime or the fact he’s still unsigned despite the regular season starting in just a couple weeks. These red flags should be in the back of the Browns’ minds when meeting with Bryant tomorrow.
However, there are even more questions I can’t help but ask when it comes to the idea of coming to Cleveland. It starts with the type of contract he’d be signing.
For all intents and purposes, Bryant would be inking a one-year, prove it deal this year. His ultimate goal is to land one final big contract, and this would be his attempt to prove he deserves it.
Knowing this, how can you not be worried about him potentially rocking the boat in Cleveland?
Bryant has a history of demanding passes from his quarterbacks while in the huddle. It’s difficult to believe this trend is going to be bucked when he’s attempting to show the NFL he’s still worthy of a hefty contract.
It’s just as tough to assume Bryant will be willing to help mentor the younger receivers like Callaway and Rashard Higgins.
Cleveland clearly likes what’s been seen from these two wideouts, as both have been getting consistent reps with the first team offense. Is Bryant willing to help them grow, letting them get their fair share of catches without voicing complaints?
It’s far easier to see Bryant going after every rep he can get in attempts to show he still has it. It’s also easy to see how doing so will hurt the development of Cleveland’s young wideouts.
Speaking of reps, what happens if Gordon comes back?
Cleveland’s troubled wideout is also trying to prove he’s worth a sizable investment, as he’s currently only making just $790K this year. Will Bryant go quietly if Gordon begins getting more looks and proving he’s the superior player?
What about how Bryant interacts with Landry?
Both players and coaches appear to recognize the latter as an important voice in the locker room. While Landry appeared to recruit Bryant via Twitter last week, there’s no way of knowing how these two will mesh until they’re both under the same roof.
Knowing both wideouts aren’t shy about voicing their opinion, what happens if they butt heads? Landry has been establishing himself as a vocal leader since the day he arrived, so Bryant drawing his ire will certainly make waves and cause a distraction this team doesn’t need.
It all just highlights how Bryant’s trademark “me first” personality can cause problems with a Browns team trying to take steps in the right direction for once. While he’d add depth to a receiving corps that needs it, the baggage he brings forces you to wonder if he’s worth the trouble.
To me, it’s too easy to see how this could go wrong. Bryant producing while avoiding drama seems like the least likely outcome here.
I hope the Browns are considering everything mentioned above. I also hope it helps them come to a decision to pass on adding Bryant to the team.