After much speculation, and a 20 minute late-morning meeting, the Dallas Cowboys surprised everyone by informing Dez Bryant that he would be released on Friday. The Cowboys did not offer Bryant a pay cut and did not designate him a post-June 1 cut. He was set to make $12.5 million and count $16.5 million against the cap. With the move, the Cowboys will save $8.5 million against the cap. Late last season Bryant said he would not accept a pay cut, but he told the NFL Network that he would have been open to one if it had been offered.

Bryant put the decision to release him on coaches and players he labeled as “Garrett guys,” but he did not name anybody specifically. Bryant’s production slipped the past three seasons after signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015. He did not record a 1,000-yard season and was slowed by foot and knee injuries. He played in every game last season and had 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns.

“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,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. “He will always be a valued member of our family. 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. This was not an easy decision. 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.”

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