Bryant will be placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, ending his season with one game to play because of foot and ankle injuries that will require surgery in the near future.
Bryant was limited to nine games this season after breaking his right foot in the season opener against the New York Giants. He had surgery the next day and missed five games. At the time of the surgery Bryant had a bone graft to help the healing process, which is standard in how the team deals with foot surgeries. In October he had a stem cell injection into his foot as well.
Multiple sources said Bryant will have more graft added to the fifth metatarsal but there is nothing wrong with the stabilizing screw that was implanted in September. The ankle surgery has been termed a "clean-up," but Bryant should be ready for the team's offseason program in April.
Coach Jason Garrett said the second surgery was something the team knew would be possible at the time of the first surgery, but he said the team does not believe Bryant rushed back from the first surgery.
"Whenever a player is coming back from an injury there are certain thresholds he must overcome, and we go through that process very thoughtfully with everybody," Garrett said. "We did that with Dez. Unfortunately, this thing has continued to bother him, both the ankle and the foot, so we'll address those here in the coming days."
Bryant returned from the initial surgery Nov. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks and caught two passes for 12 yards. He will finish the season with 31 catches for 401 yards and three touchdowns after leading the NFL with 16 touchdown catches in 2014 and earning his second straight Pro Bowl honor.
Bryant hurt his ankle and knee in his only 100-yard game of the season. On Nov. 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles he caught five passes for 104 yards but was hurt on his 18-yard touchdown catch from Matt Cassel.
He continued to play despite being limited in practice and having to have his knee heavily taped because the Cowboys remained in the playoff chase, but he was never himself.
Bryant's 2015 season was set back from the beginning due to a contract dispute. In March, the Cowboys put the franchise tag on Bryant, which resulted in him missing almost all of the offseason conditioning program, organized team activities and minicamp.
He signed a five-year, $70 million contract with $45 million guaranteed on July 15 but suffered a hamstring strain early in training camp. He missed half of the practices during camp and the four preseason games.
"Obviously he didn't benefit from not being in the offseason and through a large part of the lead-up to the season," Garrett said. "He was dealing with some different things, but Dez is a really good football player and his presence out there makes a big difference. A lot of people will try to compare players as they were to what maybe where they were at their very best. Dez was a really capable, confident football player this year for us. He had to deal with a lot of different things. We admire how he worked through a lot of different things. Missing the offseason and having a number of different injuries, he didn't get the best opportunity to prepare and play like he normally does and I think that hurt him and ultimately hurt our football team."
Over the last few weeks Garrett refused to say the team would shut down Bryant even after the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention with their Dec. 19 loss to the New York Jets. He did not practice last week, although in the locker room he said he felt fine and ultimately was ruled out of the Buffalo Bills game and did not make the trip.
The Cowboys also placed safety Barry Church (arm) and defensive end David Irving (wrist) on injured reserve. The Cowboys called up receivers Vince Mayle and Rodney Smith from the practice squad and signed cornerback Josh Thomas, who was their fifth-round pick in 2011.