Christian D’Andrea of SB Nation recently discussed possible landing spots for former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The Colts were included in that list with the following rationale:
General manager Chris Ballard needs to make a splash after 2017’s lost season and then the ignominy of being spurned by Josh McDaniels after announcing the Patriots offensive coordinator as his next head coach back in February. Bryant may not fit the team’s youth-movement rebuild, but he’d still bring value to an offense that ranked 30th in the league in passing offense last season.
The Colts have an estimated $61 million still left to spend this offseason, and could match or exceed any offer Bryant receives. The big question is whether they can sell him on Andrew Luck’s health; a Luck-Bryant-T.Y. Hilton combination would solve a lot of problems in Indianapolis. Jacoby Brissett-Bryant-Hilton isn’t nearly as intimidating.
The initial discussion regarding Ballard needing to make a splash — tossing in a Josh McDaniels reference — have nothing to do with the decision to pursue Bryant. Ballard would be a weak-minded general manager to make moves for either of those reasons and there is certainly little doubt that he will not — and nothing is a greater indication than that he has not done so to this point.
It is also fair to acknowledge that adding a player who is approaching 30 years old, and who has not been nearly as productive as he was early in his career, tends to put a damper on the rush to sign him. This is most certainly in Ballard’s mind as he considers if he would pursue Bryant and what he would be willing to pay to bring him into the fold.
There have been questions about his antics on and off the field that have been referred to as “distractions” in Dallas and numerous physical ailments that have kept him from taking the field, or limited him when he has taken it. It is hard to reconcile Bryant’s persona with the culture building that Ballard regularly references. It is even harder to look past the philosophy of building through the draft and having players earn it only to watch the new Colts front office give away a sizable contract to a player who has under-performed since 2014.
The reasons the Colts could consider bringing in Bryant are that Andrew Luck is one of the top potential partners a wider receiver could hope to find in the NFL. Bryant has always liked to get vertical and his biggest production has been in the red zone. Luck lost his red zone target when Donte Moncrief departed and they have yet to replace that skill-set on the team. Luck is known for having excellent downfield accuracy, which could play to Bryant’s strengths. Of course all of this requires Luck to make a full recovery and take the field.
Bryant is familiar with defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and if they established any type of relationship while he was in Dallas it could make the transition to Indianapolis a little easier. The Colts are still lacking at the wide receiver position and will need to address it in the draft or free agency before the 2018 season begins. As D’Andrea mentioned, Indianapolis is armed with a lot of cap space to get the job done if they really wanted to do so.
Ultimately, the reasons Indianapolis is mentioned as a possible destination for Dez Bryant are relatively flimsy. He was once a top NFL wide receiver who has not been the same for the past three seasons. He is a known distraction on and off of the field and doesn’t fit within the culture Chris Ballard consistently mentions as a top priority in the short-term. While the Colts have a need at the position and the money to get it done, it seems unlikely that Bryant would humble himself enough to take a support role and to reduce his asking price enough to entice Ballard to take the risk.