KAZ’S KORNER

The worst kept secret among the pro football buffs came to light last weekend without many being surprised at the news that the Dallas Cowboys cut their most prolific wide receiver Dez Bryant.

After all, his production dropped dramatically while his on and off-field antics increased to a point his personality was becoming more and more of a distraction.  

Perhaps the item that hurt the team the most was the fact his Bryant cost the team $16.5 million each year on the salary cap and that he was owed $12.5 million for the last two years of his five-year contract.

Ever since the 29-year-old Bryant signed that huge five-year, $70 million contract after leading the National Football League with 16 touchdown catches in 2014, he didn’t have a 1,000-yard season in three years after under the new, big contract and played all 16 games last season without a 100-yard day for the first time in his eight-year career and was second in the NFL with 11 dropped passes.

“This was not an easy decision,” team owner Jerry Jones told the Associated Press last weekend. “It was made based upon doing what we believe is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys. He will always be a valued member of our family.

With 73 touchdown catches, Bryant tops a Cowboys’ list that includes Hall of Fame receivers Bob Hayes (71) and Michael Irvin (65). Tight end Jason Witten, who is preparing for his 16th season, has 68 TD catches.

And the release of Dez increases the odds of the Cowboys taking a receiver in the first round of next week’s draft. Head Coach Jason Garrett said the addition of receivers Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency had no affect on the Bryant release.

But in reality, the statistics posted by Bryant and Hurns over the past three seasons are virtually identical. It’s reasonable to assume Hurns and the team’s first or second-round pick will surpass what Bryant did in the 2017 season when 36 NFL receivers were more productive than Bryant.

And at 29 years old, Dez Bryant has several more good years ahead of him. But, as Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman pointed out on ESPN’s “First Take” show Monday, Dez had better hook up with a team that has a great quarterback like the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans with Drew Brees or New England with Tom Brady.

Otherwise, Bryant will be raising hell with his new team’s quarterback, receiver coaches and anyone else within earshot of his tirades about not being targeted enough.

KWICKIES…The Lamar Cardinal bats finally came alive last weekend as they pounded out 39 hits in a three-game sweep at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, outscoring the Islanders 32-15. The Redbirds won Friday 12-2, Saturday 11-6 and 9-7 Sunday in 10 innings. The three victories improve the Cards’ record to 10-26 and 6-12 in the Southland Conference.

And while on the subject of baseball, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers played three exciting games last weekend at Minute Maid Park. Unfortunately, the Astros’ bullpen failed both Saturday and Sunday but did get credited with a 3-2-win Friday. Saturday starting pitcher Charlie Morton left the game after the seventh inning with a 5-2 lead. Brad Peacock blew his save try in the eighth by giving up three runs and Will Harris gave up the winning run in the 10th as Houston lost 6-5. Sunday’s nationally televised game featured perhaps one of the greatest pitching duels in many years as Astro’s ace Justin Verlander went up against ageless wonder 45-year-old Bartolo Colon. Both hurlers left after the eighth inning surrendering one run on only one hit. If Astros manager only believed in the bunt, the Astros would have won in the bottom of the ninth after George Springer reached first with one out. If Alex Bregman bunted instead of flying out, Jose Altuve followed with a base hit that would have scored Springer with the winning run. But the Rangers jumped on reliever Hal Rondon for two runs and won 3-1. The weekend almost looked like one of Houston’s 100-plus loss seasons of the past.

Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole struck out 14 Rangers Friday night raising his total for three games to 36. The major league record for the first three games of the season is 37 set by Nolan Ryan in 1973.

A total of 48,149 Texas Aggie fans got their first look at a Jimbo Fisher-coached game Saturday afternoon in the annual Maroon & White Game and saw something they haven’t seen in several years—a tight end (Jace Sternberger) leading the offense. Sternberger, an integral part of Fisher’s offense, hauled in eight passes for 147 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch in the spring football game at Kyle Field.

The Houston Rockets got the NBA playoffs started on the right foot by edging past the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 Sunday night at the Toyota Center in Houston, led by James Harden’s 44 points. The two teams meet again tonight at 8:30 p.m. in the Toyota Center.

JUST BETWEEN US…On Sunday all major league baseball teams wore his number 42 on their baseball uniforms to honor Jackie Robinson on his special day April 15. However, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick spouted off saying he should be compared to the Brooklyn Dodger who broke major league baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Kaepernick claims that because Robinson once said “I cannot stand and sing the anthem or salute the flag because I know that I’m a black man in a white world” he should be compared to Robinson. One thing Jackie Robinson did that Kaepernick does not do is to add millions of dollars to his team’s coffers because all the team owners care about is the bottom line. That’s why the NFL owners refuse to hire the talented quarterback because he would be a detriment to any team willing to take a chance on Kaepernick.