SportsPulse: NFL reporter Lorenzo Reyes attempts to explain the helmet rule that is causing chaos this preseason and if the NFL plans on making any adjustments to rule ahead of the regular season.
Dear Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell: It’s time to give Dez Bryant a call.
The Jaguars front office apparently hasn’t been willing to seriously entertain a move that has seemingly had merit ever since the Cowboys released Bryant in April. But after Marqise Lee, the Jags’ No. 1 receiver, was carted off the field Saturday night with what appeared to be a gruesome left knee injury, a shotgun marriage with Bryant might now be incumbent upon Jacksonville to keep its Super Bowl hopes on track.
The receiving corps already loomed as the reigning AFC South champions’ weak link. Lee, who signed a four-year, $34 million contract in March, led the club with just 56 catches in 2017. No Jaguar had as many as 750 receiving yards last season.
A second-round pick in 2014, Lee had also matured into a leader, a role that expanded in his position room after Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns moved on in free agency this spring. The three players behind Lee on the depth chart — Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and second rounder D.J. Chark — have combined for 11 NFL starts, all coming last year when Westbrook and Cole were rookies.
The three-time Pro Bowler is outspoken and occasionally boisterous — perhaps, on the surface, not the kind of player the sometimes dour Coughlin, Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations, would gravitate toward. Yet this locker room already accommodates big personalities like Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell. And Bryant’s experience would be a boon to such a green group of wideouts after Caldwell, the general manager, tinkered little with it this year aside from drafting Chark and signing oft-injured Donte Moncrief.
The Jags should likewise be a match for Bryant, who’s only 29. Granted, he hasn’t been a 1,000-yard receiver since 2014 and some will suggest his route tree is limited and skill set on the decline. However he’s apparently back to full health and could further benefit from the space Jacksonville’s top-ranked running game (in 2017) would afford him — and running back Leonard Fournette and quarterback Blake Bortles would surely appreciate the red zone threat and chain-moving ability Bryant would bring to the attack.
And how about this: Jacksonville plays at Dallas in Week 6, a golden opportunity for Bryant to prove to Jerry Jones, Sean Lee and anyone else in the Cowboys organization he has a beef with that it was a mistake to cut him loose.
Unless Marqise Lee’s healing powers prove remarkable, the Jaguars will almost certainly require immediate help. Bryant needs a team, and one where he could fill in as the premier target and perhaps parlay a one-year deal into a final free agent payday in 2019 could be the ideal fit.
It’s time for both sides to say, “I do.”
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
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