Washington (United States) (AFP) – Dez Bryant, a star receiver for eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, was released Friday by the NFL club, saying the split was “personal” and not his choice.
Bryant caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns with the Cowboys since Dallas made him a first-round selection, 24th overall, in the 2010 NFL Draft.
“This was not an easy decision,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “It was made based upon doing what we believe is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. We arrived at this crossroad collectively with input from several voices within the organization. Ultimately we determined it was time to go in a new direction.”
Bryant tweeted his frustration after being told of his release when he arrived Friday for a meeting at the team’s headquarters.
“Cowboy nation I need you to know this wasn’t my decision.. I will always love y’all… forever Dallas in my heart. The love is real .. thank you.”
Bryant, 29, also tweeted: “Key words in this statement.. Several input.. something I already knew.”
That indicated unhappiness with Bryant beyond Jones in the organization, making it personal and inspirational, according to Bryant.
“If I didn’t have my edge I got it now,” Bryant tweeted. “I’m sorry they got to feel me it’s personal… it’s very personal.”
Jones claimed his bond with Bryant was among the closest he has had with any player in three decades.
“As an organization we hold Dez Bryant in the highest regard, and we are grateful for his passion, spirit and contributions to this team for the past eight years. He will always be a valued member of our family,” Jones said.
“Dez and I share a personal and professional relationship that is very strong, and he is one of just a handful of players with whom I have become that close to over the past 30 years.”
The move saved the Cowboys some $8 million in salary cap money for the upcoming season. It would have been a $16.5 million salary cap mark had the Cowboys paid Bryant the $12.5 million he was due under his contract.
Bryant had said he did not intend to take a pay cut and the Cowboys, according to a report on the NFL’s website, never offered him one.
After signing a major contract extension in 2015, Bryant’s reception yardage had slipped. After reaching 1,200 to 1,300 yards from 2012-2014, he managed only 401 in 2015 due to a broken foot, then 796 in 2016 and just 838 last year.