WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: 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.
NFL slaps free agent QB Sanchez with four-game doping ban
Free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez was issued a four-game suspension by the NFL on Saturday after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, but says he unknowingly took the banned substances.
Sanchez will be sidelined for the first four games of what woukd be his 10th NFL campaign, the first five coming with the New York Jets from 2009-2013 after he was made the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Since being released by the Jets in 2014, Sanchez has had stops in Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas and Chicago.
Sanchez has completed 1,295 of 2,285 passes for 15,219 yards and 86 touchdowns with 86 inerceptions in his career.
In an Instagram posting, Sanchez said he was caught by surprise by the ban and blamed contaminated supplements for the positive test.
“The NFL has informed me that I have tested positive for a substance on the banned substance list,” Sanchez wrote. “I was blind-sided by the news and I want to say unequivocally that I have never cheated or attempted to gain a competitive advantage by using a banned performance enhancing substance.
“During the past nine years as an NFL player I have been subject to 73 drug tests — and average of over 8 tests per season — and all but one have been clean. I have taken the same regimen of supplements for the past five years without any issues.
“The timing and results of my tests establish circumstances of unknowing supplement contamination, not the use of performance enhancing substances.”
Sanchez served as a secondary backup for Chicago rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the second pick of last year’s NFL Draft, last season and did not throw a pass for the Bears.