The Dallas Cowboys released Dez Bryant on Friday, making the decision that staying below the salary cap and the decline of the stellar wide receiver outweighs the risk that he will regain his level with another team.

Bryant never lived up to the $ 70 million, five-year contract he signed after leading the NFL with 16 touchdown passes caught in 2014. He still has two additional years of contract left with a base salary of $ 12.5 million per season. .

“This was not an easy decision. It was taken based on what we believe is the Cowboys’ best interests, ”owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement. “It was concluded that it was time to go in a new direction.”

Getting rid of Bryant opens up about $ 8.5 million in salary for the Cowboys.

Bryant, 29, responded with a series of tweets directed at Cowboys fans after meeting Jones at team headquarters.

In a tweet that included a copy of James’ statement, he wrote: “Key words in this statement … various opinions … something I already knew.”

“Cowboys fans, I want you to know that this was not my decision … I will always love you, it will always carry Dallas in my heart,” he added in another message.

Bryant is the franchise’s historic leader with 73 caught touchdown passes, ahead of Bob Hayes (71) and Michael Irvin (65), both in the Hall of Fame.