METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Dez Bryant has found a new team, agreeing to contract teams with the New Orleans Saints.
The former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, who has been looking for an NFL home since becoming a free agent, will join one of the NFL’s top offenses in New Orleans. A person familiar with the decision confirmed the move on Wednesday, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the roster move has not been announced.
The 30-year-old Bryant spent his first eight years in the NFL with Dallas and last season caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns, including a 50-yard scoring play, for the Cowboys.
However, his professional reputation has been marred at times by public confrontations with coaches and teammates during games and practices.
Seeking salary cap relief, the Cowboys released Bryant after last season with two years remaining on the receiver’s five-year, $70 million contract.
Last season was Bryant’s best since he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 TDs in 2014, which at the time was his third consecutive season with at least 1,200 yards receiving. He signed his last contract right after that but has not approached that level of production since — a central reason Dallas released him in April.
Bryant was among several receivers to work out for the Saints on Tuesday. He’d previously met with Cleveland and Baltimore.
New Orleans (7-1), which has won seven straight and leads the NFC South Division, didn’t necessarily need another receiver.
Led by record-setting quarterback Drew Brees, the Saints rank seventh on offense overall, averaging 402.2 yards per game, and seventh in passing, averaging 289.9 yards. At the same time, New Orleans is without deep threat Ted Ginn Jr., who is currently on injured reserve and won’t be eligible to return until the final few weeks of the season, if he’s ready by then.
The Saints also have yet to receive consistent production from Cameron Meredith, a former Chicago receiving leader who was acquired in free agency, but who also is trying to come back from major knee surgery that wiped out his 2017 campaign.
Bryant’s return to the NFL with the Saints means he could play against his former club in a few weeks. The Saints play at Dallas on Nov. 29.
New Orleans also has two games remaining against division rival Carolina (6-2).
“The nice thing is we don’t play them until December, so we will get an opportunity to see what they are doing with him,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said shortly after hearing about Bryant’s agreement with the Saints. “He’s a good player. He’s a guy that has shown he can go up and get the football.”
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