Brian Allee-Walsh

The Saints took a risk by signing Dez Bryant. Is he worth it?

Dez Bryant with the New Orleans Saints?

As long as the 30-year-old diva wide receiver behaves himself and doesn’t become a distraction on the sideline or in the locker room as was the case during his final years with the Dallas Cowboys, I say why not?

Some team had to sign him. He’s too good to be wasting away in the NFL unemployment line. Might as well be the Black and Gold, who once again show they want to win a second Lombardi Trophy before the ageless wonder, quarterback Drew Brees, calls it a career.

Truth be told, bringing Bryant in the fold is a no-brainer for the Saints. The pros far outweigh the cons for team officials to be making this roster move at midseason. Consider:

For starters, I suspect Saints coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis would rather see Bryant with their team, then say, with another potential Super Bowl contender especially in the NFC.

He’s a better fit in New Orleans now as a complementary receiver than an aspiring No. 1 as he would have been had he come on board during the offseason. He’s a much better fit now after the team’s sensational 7-1 start and now that Michael Thomas has established himself as the alpha dog receiver.

Look at Bryant as a cheap rental property. Thanks to Saints left tackle Terron Armstead restructuring his contract to create the necessary cap room, the Saints are paying Bryant minimum wage — 8/17ths of a one-year, $1.25 million base salary, meaning he will count $588,235 against the cap.

Remember, Bryant was scheduled to make a 2018 base salary of $12 million from the Cowboys before his abrupt release in April.

As great as Thomas has been with 70 catches for 880 yards and five TDs, the Saints offense has missed other helping hands at the WR position after injuries to Ted Ginn Jr. and now Cameron Meredith, who will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and be placed on season-ending IR.

Once Bryant is deemed football ready, perhaps as early as Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) at Paul Brown Stadium (noon, FOX), Payton will work Dez into the weekly game plans so he can find a niche for himself.

Bryant is expected to play a supporting role and not a leading role in the Saints’ vaunted offense spearheaded by running back Alvin Kamara, Thomas and Brees, mostly on third-down and in the red zone.

If Bryant can deal with his reduced role in an adult manner and not become disruptive, then this can become a win-win proposition for both parties. A good audition would boost boost his stock in New Orleans or elsewhere going forward.

The only negative I see is that Year 1 of the Cameron Meredith rehabilitation project didn’t produce the desired results. The Saints pried the restricted free agent away from the Chicago Bears with a two-year, $9.5 million deal in April that featured $5.35 million in guarantees, including a $3.5 million signing bonus.

Meredith, who missed the entire 2017 season in Chicago after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, finishes this season with nine catches for 114 yards and one TD.

With regards to Dez Bryant, the bottom line is this move carries little risk for Saints officials, who have relative little money invested and believe they have the type of locker room that can successfully police a fallen star nursing a bruised ego.

“At the end of the day if we can bring someone in here to help us win, then it’s great,’‘ Brees said.

If not, I say no harm, no foul.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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