Dez Bryant isn't buying the idea that his release by the Dallas Cowboys was a business decision.
Hours after the Cowboys severed ties with Bryant on Friday, the three-time Pro Bowl receiver told the NFL Network that certain coaches and players on the team were instrumental in the team's decision to send him walking.
"I'll say this right here: I believe that (head coach Jason) Garrett's guys (were responsible). I would say that," said Bryant. "I believe that. I truly believe that. I won't put no names out, but they know, and I want them to know on this air I know. I'll shoot them a text message and let them know."
While Bryant refused to name specific players, he was upset at not being named one of the team's six captains prior to last season.
"Little do they know is, you know, they can wear that 'C' all they want to, but in that locker room ... they know who they communicate with," said Bryant. "Everybody knows where the real love is at. I'm not throwing anybody under the bus, but that's the difference between me and them."
Veteran tight end Jason Witten, second-year quarterback Dak Prescott and linebacker Sean Lee were among the captains that included Dan Bailey, Tyrone Crawford and since-released Orlando Scandrick.
Bryant, who was scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2018 and count $16.5 million against salary cap, met with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Friday amid speculation that he would be asked to take a pay cut in the wake of declining production the past three seasons.
However, that topic never came up, according to Bryant, and Jones said in a statement released by the team that: "Ultimately we determined it was time to go in a new direction."
Bryant noted that the fact that Jones did not even broach the subject of a pay cut reinforced his belief that other factors were at play in the decision to cut him loose, particularly with the owner stressing what a difficult personal decision it was for him.
"Jerry Jones, he loved me to death, and I loved him, too. I honestly did," said Bryant. "I honestly believe in my heart this was a hard decision for him. When it's five to six guys at a table against one guy, you've got to do it. Like Jerry told me in our meeting, he didn't ask me to take a pay cut. He didn't want that.
"That further lets me believe what I thought a long time ago."
Bryant, 29, had a team-leading 69 receptions for 838 yards and six touchdowns in 2017. He has gone a career-worst 23 regular-season games without a 100-yard performance.
Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has failed to record a 1,000-yard season or reel in more than eight touchdown receptions in a season.
Bryant was a touchdown machine in the first half of his career with the Cowboys, hauling in 41 scoring passes in a three-season span, capped by a career-high 16 in 2014. He was named a First-Team All-Pro selection that year.
During that spectacular run from 2012-2014, Bryant also averaged 91 receptions and put up at least 1,233 receiving yards in each of the three seasons.
For his career, Bryant appeared in 113 games (99 starts) and amassed 7,459 total yards while registering a franchise-record 73 receiving touchdowns.
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