With the Dez Bryant contract spectacle now over, it's a good time to look at what could've been, the 'darkest timeline' if you will.
I'll set the scene for you. It's the night of the 2010 NFL Draft. For months leading up to the draft, Ravens fans had been anxiously spectating if their team would grab one of the two top wideouts in this class, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant. Quite a few mock drafts had Thomas going to Baltimore. While on the other hand, Bryant reportedly met with GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh, and also dined with Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. It was clear that the team was eyeing both.
The Ravens didn't exactly have the most earth-shattering receivers at the time, so an exciting young prospect could really have rejuvenated the offense. It's no wonder why the fans were so excited.
Alas, the Ravens have the 25th pick, so all they can do is sit and wait. We all know Ozzie isn't likely to trade up, so it's going to be a long night.
Fast forward to the 22nd pick, which belongs to the Denver Broncos. Following the trade of Brandon Marshall that week, the Broncos were in dire need of a receiver. Ravens fans waited with bated breath, both had fallen this far, why not three more picks?
It wasn't in the cards for the Ravens, as the Broncos selected Demaryius Thomas. But Dez was still there, and there were only two picks separating him and the Ravens.
The Packers were up next. Luckily, they were very much set at the WR slot and instead opted to select OT Bryan Bulaga. Not only were fans excited to see Bryant seemingly fall right into the team's lap, but even the Ravens scouts were seen celebrating the Bulaga pick.
Now it was crunch time. Would the Ravens make a move for the very-talented yet troubled Bryant?
The Patriots were up, and they were willing to deal. The phone was ringing off the hook at Patriots HQ, as they had a coveted selection. The Ravens were one of those teams calling Foxborough, and Ozzie was looking to trade up. However, the Patriots were asking too much for Ozzie's taste, they wanted the #25 pick and next year's 3rd round selection.
Jerry Jones thought differently, and pulled the trigger, sending his pick #27, and third round selection (#90) in exchange for the Patriots' #24 and fourth round selection (#119).
The rest is history. The Cowboys would select Dez Bryant, and Baltimore would trade back and select the now-car salesman Sergio Kindle. A year later, the third rounder that Ozzie refused to give up would become offensive lineman Jah Reid.
It's pretty clear that the Cowboys came out ahead here. But what could've been if Bryant came to Baltimore? Would Joe Flacco reach his full potential with an 'elite' WR? Could the Ravens turn the tables and boast a powerful offense? Most importantly, would the Ravens be able to handle Bryant's antics?
Probably not. Between his sideline fits, allegedly striking his mother in the face, and apparently Jerry Jones' 'rules' for Bryant, which include "No alcohol", "Midnight curfew", and "Round-the clock supervision" I'd imagine the Ravens would not put up with him. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has shown patience with troubled players before, but the NFL isn't a daycare. I just don't think Dez would've been a good fit in the relatively drama-free/no-nonsense atmosphere in Baltimore.
In the end, I think all ended well. The Cowboys got a superstar WR (with a super big ego) who they are willing to put up with, and the Ravens, well they did get a Super Bowl a few years later, but they also finally got their promising young receiver in the form of Breshad Perriman, five long years later.
Congrats to Dez and the Cowboys for striking a deal, the league needs personalities like him. As for the Ravens, perhaps they'll prove to have made the smarter move in the long term with the selection of Perriman. One can only hope.