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Cowboys cut ties with waning star Bryant

The Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant carries the ball after making a catch against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 31, 2017, in Philadelphia.

The Associated Press FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dez Bryant never lived up to the big contract he signed with the Dallas Cowboys when he was among the best receivers in the NFL.

If the franchise leader in touchdown catches is going to find his 2014 All-Pro form again, it will be with another team.

The Cowboys released Bryant on Friday, deciding salary-cap relief and declining production from one of their biggest stars outweighed the risk of him proving them wrong by becoming a Pro Bowl player again somewhere else.

And Bryant used Twitter to make it clear that he will be trying.

“If I didn’t have my edge, I’ve got it now,” he wrote among a flurry of tweets over two days, starting the day before a meeting where owner and general manager Jerry Jones told him he was being released. “It’s very personal.”

The 29-year-old Bryant signed a $70 million, five-year deal after leading the NFL with 16 touchdowns in 2014. But he didn’t have a 1,000-yard season in three years under the big contract, and just played all 16 games without a 100-yard day for the first time in his eight-year career.

Bryant was owed $12.5 million on each of the last two years of his deal, with a $16.5 million salary cap hit both times. The release clears about $8.5 million in cap space.

“This was not an easy decision,” 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.”

Bryant and Jones had a unique relationship because of the trouble that surrounded the receiver early in his career. Off-field concerns were the reason the Cowboys got him; he slid to near the bottom of the first round of the 2010 draft. Dallas traded up three spots to get him.

Before the three most prolific seasons of his career, when Bryant averaged 1,312 yards and nearly 14 touchdowns per year, he got tangled in lawsuits over unpaid jewelry bills and had a baggy pants incident with police at an upscale Dallas mall.

The most serious problem was a domestic incident involving his mother in 2012, with Bryant pleading guilty and eventually having the charge dismissed when he stayed out of trouble for a year.

Bryant also was a distraction throughout his career with sideline rants, even admitting late last season that he let frustrations affect him during perhaps his most difficult year in the league. He said some of the frustration was rooted in the offensive scheme.

With 73 touchdown catches, Bryant tops a Dallas list that includes Hall of Fame receivers Bob Hayes (71) and Michael Irvin (65). Tight end Jason Witten, who is getting ready for his 16th season, has 68 career TD catches.Speech

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