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FRISCO, Texas -- Speaking for the first time since the release of Dez Bryant last Friday, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the move was made with careful consideration of a number of factors, from the wide receiver's production to his cost.
Bryant went three straight seasons without 1,000 yards and was set to count $16.5 million against the cap in 2018. After much internal deliberation, Garrett said the decision was made to part ways with the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown catches.
"Dez Bryant has been a great player for this franchise during his time here," Garrett said Tuesday at the Albertsons Companies All-Star Gala in which Pat and Emmitt Smith were presented a Lifetime Achievement Award for their charity work. "Certainly a playmaker, a difference-maker. A guy that we all love. Love him as a player, as a person and that will never change.
"It's a challenging situation. A lot of different factors go into these kinds of decisions and again the guidepost for all of this is: What's in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys? And that's why we made this decision. Wish Dez nothing but the best going forward. He's a special guy. I love him. I will always love him and the impact that he's made on this franchise has been significant."
In an interview with NFL Network after his release, Bryant referred to "Garrett guys" and players who wear the "C," as captains, as playing a part in the team's decision. Dak Prescott, Jason Witten and Sean Lee were three of the Cowboys' six captains in 2017.
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In a wide-ranging interview with 247Sports.com, Bryant was asked about several teams that he would potentially be interested in signing with. The former Cowboys wide receiver, when asked about the Giants, said it would "be crazy" to join Dallas' divisional rival.
"The Giants got a helluva defense," Bryant told 247Sports.com, which published a report Monday based off the interview. "They're going to pay OBJ [Odell Beckham Jr.], so coming back. Playing with him, Sterling [Shepard] ... the tight end [Evan Engram], [Eli] Manning? Crazy. ... That'd be crazy."
Bryant also mentioned the possibility that the Giants use the No. 2 overall draft pick on Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who would bolster New York's running game and add balance to the offense.
After being released by the Cowboys, Bryant told the NFL Network on Friday that signing with another NFC East team is "something that I want." He reiterated that sentiment to 247Sports, saying that he would "like to play the Cowboys twice."
The Giants, as Bryant noted, are well-stocked at receiver, assuming Beckham returns healthy from a season-ending ankle injury and settles his contract dispute with the team. The Giants also may not have the salary-cap space to sign Bryant, although they would save $5.5 million against the cap if they cut veteran receiver Brandon Marshall
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"It's sad news. That's a brother to me," Prescott said from a women's clinic he was hosting at Episcopal Parish School in Dallas. "Put the football stuff behind you, and what he meant to me as a person, what he meant to me as a brother, it's tough to see him go. It shows you it's a business. All it does is motivate me and puts all this in perspective. Just got to go to work."
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones met with Bryant for roughly 20 minutes on Friday, as Jones made the move without offering Bryant a pay cut. The Cowboys saved $8.5 million against the salary cap by cutting Bryant, the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
Prescott was at The Star working out with teammates when the news came that Bryant had been released.
"Dez is going to be a hard guy to replace," Prescott said. "He's a talented guy, so he'll be missed."
In an interview with NFL Network, Bryant insinuated that coaches played a part in his release as well as players he labeled as "Garrett guys" and captains.
"I mean, I'm sure he's hearing stuff, and I'm sure he's getting it from a lot of different ways, so I mean, I'm not going to finger-point at anybody," Prescott said. "I'm not going to get upset for who he's pointing at or who he thinks did this. So I mean, as I said, it's a business, and it's part of it."
Prescott said he had heard the speculation that Bryant could be released throughout the offseason, but "I can't say that I actually thought that it would fully happen."
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