Dallas Cowboys Have Leverage In Dez Bryant Contract Talks

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Nov 9, 2014; London, ENG; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett (L) talks to wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) prior to their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Romo Makes Wide Receivers Better

If Bryant wants to be an icon and grow his brand, he needs to get it done at an elite level on the field. Unfortunately for him, because he’s a wide receiver, he can’t simply do that himself; his production is almost totally co-dependent on the quarterback position.

Watching their client get utterly neutralized by backup quarterback Brandon Weeden’s inaccuracy in the  embarrassing Week 9 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bryant’s new agents got a bit nervous. The whole world saw the flaw in the case they’re building that Bryant is indispensable: When the quarterback is bad, it doesn’t matter how good the receiver is.

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Dez Bryant predicts apocalyptic scenario for Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins
Dez Bryant predicts apocalyptic scenario for Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins /


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  • Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is the anti-Weeden. Romo makes receivers better. We saw him do it with wide receiver Patrick Crayton, who we all believed to be a legit NFL No. 2 until he was traded to San Diego and subsequently disappeared. We saw him do it with journeyman Laurent Robinson, who caught 11 touchdowns in 14 games with Dallas in 2011, signed a big free agent contact with Jacksonville the next year, and was never heard from again.

    Watching former Cowboys receiver Miles Austin drop passes in Cleveland, one wonders if his Pro Bowl berths in Dallas weren’t merely a reflection of Romo’s excellence as well.

    Regardless, Bryant needs Romo a whole lot more than Romo needs Bryant. There are only a handful of elite quarterbacks in the league, and if Bryant wants to be an icon he needs to be catching passes from one of them. The Patriots never pay wide receivers. The Broncos have their own stud to re-sign. Green Bay and New Orleans just paid big to keep their top receiving threats long-term.

    The list grows short. Staying in Dallas benefits Bryant because leaving means risking a falloff in production, and an icon needs to catch balls.

    Icons Also Need To Win

    That’s bad news for Bryant’s agents, because apparently NFL franchises don’t build winners by devoting massive cap space to wide receivers. Maybe that’s why so few wide receivers are icons.

    The top 10 receiver contracts in the league are all worth over $9 million per year. Their teams have a combined winning percentage of .468 over the past three seasons. Their playoff record during those collective 30 seasons: 3-8, according to Pro Football Reference.

    But the arrow for this Dallas team is pointing up. Garrett’s organizational overhaul and roster rebuild are starting to show dividends in the win column, and as the team has been built from the inside out it looks sustainable.

    It appears as if the Jones-McClay-Garrett trinity knows what to look for in the draft. A couple more rookie crops like the ones they had in 2011 and 2013, and this team could be stacked with young, cap friendly talent at all the right positions. In order for Bryant to benefit from that smart organizational building, he must first participate in it by not attempting to break future caps to remain a Cowboy.

    If Bryant wants to become an icon, that’s how to do it. Not by squeezing Jerry for $30 million guaranteed; instead, catch a ton of balls from a great quarterback to help the most widely watched franchise in the league win games.

    Also, consider that if Bryant remains a Cowboy for all his meaningful playing years, and manages to get a ring in the bargain, he won’t have to buy his own drink in the state of Texas again for the rest of his life…

    Forget what your agent is telling you, Dez. That’s respect.