Crayton was dealt to the San Diego Chargers, where he'll be a bigger part of an offense and still play for a contender. The change in locales isn't bad either, although Crayton is leaving the area where he grew up.
The Cowboys received just a seventh-round draft pick in the trade, a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora. The team likely figured it was better than cutting Crayton and receiving nothing, plus it puts him in the other conference.
The Cowboys kept Crayton all summer mainly because there wasn't any incentive to give in to his trade request. But as team officials discussed their 53-man roster, they apparently believed they couldn't justify keeping someone with Crayton's high salary ($2 million) in a reduced role (fourth receiver, backup punt returner).
"You have to take everything into consideration -- economics, how he fits with the team, the overall body of work -- and you make a decision based on that," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said. "We really waited to evaluate all our receivers. ... We feel very comfortable with our depth."
The Cowboys also feel comfortable with Bryant's health. The former Oklahoma State star missed the entire preseason with a high ankle sprain, but he's ready for the Sept. 12 season opener at Washington. Bryant is expected to take over the roles that Crayton had last season -- No. 3 receiver and punt returner.
Crayton skipped offseason workouts because he was upset about Bryant's arrival. But once Crayton showed up, there weren't any problems. He just couldn't get ahead of Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Bryant on the depth chart, and the Cowboys believed Kevin Ogletree was ready to take on a larger role in his second season.
"I think he's proven he deserves an opportunity," Jones said.
Dallas also has Sam Hurd, a fifth-year pro and special-teams standout. His roster spot could be in jeopardy, too, because he has a $1.8 million contract.
"Patrick's been a very productive player for this organization," Jones said. "He's done nothing but represent the Cowboys in a first-class way. There was never any hard feelings from the organization's standpoint toward Patrick."
Now Crayton can help the Chargers, who have gone the entire offseason without Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, a restricted free agent who wants a long-term deal. The Chargers' projected starters at wide receiver are Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee. The team also signed free agent Josh Reed to a one-year deal contract in mid-June.
The problems with a Jackson trade -- off-the-field concerns about the player, pending roster-exempt deadline, the cost of signing him and how much Chargers general manager A.J. Smith wants in a deal -- make it difficult to execute. Few teams could make that sort of commitment, financial and otherwise, this late in the offseason, and sources said the Rams and Seahawks have cooled on the likelihood of making the deal.
One executive who investigated the situation told Jason La Canfora, "I don't think A.J. wants to make a trade; he wants to win the trade. And that's just one of the moving parts that make this kind of deal difficult."
Smith didn't return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
A trade is highly unlikely, considering Houshmandzadeh's $7 million price tag for this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.