Dez Bryant, the Dallas Cowboys’ fiery star receiver, was released on Friday.
“This was not an easy decision,” the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, said in a statement with few specifics. “It was made based upon doing what we believe is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys.
“Ultimately, we determined it was time to go in a new direction.”
Bryant, 29, is a passionate player known for highlight-reel catches. He was active on Twitter in the aftermath of the decision, saying: “Cowboy Nation, I need you to know this wasn’t my decision. I will always love y’all. Forever Dallas in my heart.”
He also implied that he might be looking to sign as a free agent with a team in the N.F.C. East, saying he hoped to play against the Cowboys twice a season.
The decision was announced after a meeting between Bryant and Jones on Friday.
Bryant’s release will save the Cowboys $8 million in valuable salary cap room. He was due to make a base salary of $12 million for the 2018 season.
A first-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State, Bryant is a three-time Pro Bowl player who spent eight seasons in Dallas. He led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2014. After a season in which he was limited by injuries, he bounced back in 2016, and last season he played every game and finished with 838 yards and six touchdowns, both team highs. But he also was among the league leaders in drops, with six.
He was at the center of a controversy in the 2014 playoffs against the Green Bay Packers when he appeared to catch a fourth-down pass near the end zone late in the close game. But after a review, it was ruled that he failed to control the ball after he landed on the ground, part of the N.F.L.’s long disputed catch rule. The Cowboys lost the game.