Nov 9, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) scores on a 35-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Wrap your head around this: Dez Bryant is not going to get what he wants from the Dallas Cowboys.
Or, rather, the agent who is advising Bryant won’t get what he wants from the Cowboys. It’s just speculation, but I think Bryant has a bug in his ear telling him that cap space plus guaranteed money equals respect.
That bug has watched Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones roll over for his star players in the past, and believes Jones will do so again, but that’s not how the Cowboys operate these days.
If being an icon is important to you, the brand on your helmet matters a whole lot more than the brand on your agent’s business card.
This is 2014, and Jones’ trinity brain trust of Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, assistant director of player personnel Will McClay, and head coach Jason Garrett simply will not agree to pay a wide receiver $30 million in guaranteed money and $15 million a year. If that’s what Bryant wants, as some have speculated, he ain’t likely to get it in Big D.
I don’t think that is what Bryant wants. I think Bryant knows that no matter what his next contract looks like, he’ll have an opportunity to secure the next several generations of his family with it. I think Bryant’s agents want $30 million guaranteed and $15 million a year, and they’re selling it to Bryant under the guise of “respect.” For the agent, every dollar counts because that’s how they entice other players to sign with them.
Bryant told us all what he really wants. After hiring new representation in rapper Jay Z’s Roc Nation earlier this month, Bryant told reporters the move was less about contract negotiations and more about “branding myself.”
"“It’s about me branding myself and being an icon for these kids. I love kids and they look up to me… (Roc Nation) can help me get to where I want to be.”"
Being a Cowboy can help Bryant brand himself and become an icon better than Roc Nation can. If that’s really what Bryant wants, the team has leverage in these negotiations that another franchise might not enjoy. Here are three points to remember:
It’s All About The Star
If “being and icon” is important to you, the brand on your helmet matters a whole lot more than the brand on your agent’s business card.
Bryant has a chance to spend his entire career, at least the meaningful part of it, with a star on his helmet. Why is that important? Because being a career Cowboy is like being a career Yankee. I haven’t watched a baseball game in a decade, yet I know that New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter retired this year. How do I know that? Because Jeter is an icon. Would he be an icon if he had the same career in Seattle with the Mariners? You see my point.
The Cowboys brand matters. Not just in terms of gravitas, but also in exposure. Bryant will play more prime time games this year than any other receiver in the league, and that schedule was made when TV execs thought Dallas would win six games this year. Didn’t matter. When the Cowboys play, everyone tunes in. It’s like that every year, and it certainly won’t change now that the Cowboys are winning.
You want to be an icon, you need the brand and you need the exposure. Cincinnati wide receiver and fellow 2015 free agent A.J. Green arguably is a better overall receiver than Bryant. An electric playmaker since 2011 for the Bengals, no one talks about Green as a potential icon. That’s because, and please forgive the hyperbole, he’s a stupid Bengal. He plays for a franchise no one cares about and no one sees.
Bryant benefits from the Cowboys brand. If Bryant wants to be an icon, he needs the star. It’s worth less guaranteed money to him to be able to brand himself with a star on his helmet.