FRISCO, Texas – Everyone in the world seems to have an opinion on Dez Bryant's future with the Cowboys, so it's perfectly understandable that his predecessor is one of them.
Michael Irvin is in Minneapolis this week ahead of Super Bowl LII – along with most of the rest of the NFL fraternity. As part of the media frenzy that accompanies any Super Bowl, the Cowboys' Hall of Fame wide receiver appeared on The Dan Patrick Show.
Given his status as a Cowboys' Ring of Honor member, not to mention one of three great receivers to wear No. 88 for the franchise, Irvin was asked for his thoughts on Dez Bryant's future with the team.
Unsurprisingly, he was not afraid to share them.
"You don't find No. 1 receivers hanging off trees like leaves. So what are you going to do, let Dez go? Who you got to replace him," Irvin asked. "You don't find them this easily. And the Cowboys would be stupid – stupid – to let this boy go right now."
Bryant's future is easily the biggest talking point facing the Cowboys in 2018, as he endured arguably the worst season of his career and is set to cost roughly $16 million against the salary cap.
With the Cowboys coming off a disappointing season, there's plenty of conversation about the former All-Pro wide receiver taking a pay cut – or being released if he won't.
For his part, Bryant said at the tail end of the regular season that he would do no such thing. Last week at the Senior Bowl, both Jerry and Stephen Jones did not elaborate much on the issue, reiterating only that Bryant is under contract for the coming season.
"Everybody that's got years left on their contract, I'm expecting them to be on this team," said Jerry Jones.
Bryant caught just 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns – all of which are easily the worst totals of his career during seasons when he has played all 16 games. His average of 12.1 yards per reception was the lowest of his career, and he was plagued by drops for much of the year.
Despite that, Irvin was adamant that Bryant's struggles can be attributed to the run-heavy Dallas offense, as well as the maturation of Dak Prescott.
"You've seen what Dez Bryant can do. You've seen Dez Bryant put up 16 touchdowns in a season," Irvin said. "Now, he has a new quarterback – who we have just given the old man tag to. It's like Dak has been around forever already, playing football, and it's just his second year. He just finished his second year. Dez has to bring Dak along."
None of this is likely to quell the debate any time soon. The Cowboys have a lot of improvements to make in the coming months, and Bryant's contract is accounting for a hefty portion of their salary cap.
As for Irvin, though, he made his thoughts on the matter perfectly clear.
"Back up off 88 right now, and trust me – give it time," he said. "This was a tough year for the Dallas Cowboys. Nobody's talking about the thing that hung over their head all year long. It was a tough year. I say let's reload, shoot one more shot next year. Things don't go down, then you start making changes."