Dallas Cowboys: Tony Romo’s Contract Changes Will Secure Dez Bryant
With this week’s restructuring of the contract of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, some have suggested that it must mean that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on the way.
It actually means that wide receiver Dez Bryant will likely be staying.
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It’s true that the additional funds secured under this year’s salary cap make a Peterson acquisition quite tempting. After all, Peterson has made it pretty clear that he no longer wants to play for the Vikings. His scheduled salary for this coming season fits almost perfectly within the window created.
So does Bryant’s expected salary, at least as things sit right now.
Above all the events that have transpired this offseason, from the signing of defensive end Greg Hardy to the sudden departure of running back DeMarco Murray, I think there’s one that’s far greater:
Bryant receiving the franchise tag.
It’s tough to argue that Bryant isn’t the best overall player on the Dallas offense. Whoever may have thought it was Murray is simply off the mark, if only by a slim margin. Murray had a great season, but there’s numerous other factors that went it to that NFL-leading total of 1,845 rushing yards last season.
Yes, there’s Romo, who’s easily the most important player on the offense, especially when healthy. You can’t count more than just a few passers in the NFL that are hands-down better.
But Bryant is the actual engine of this offense. He requires constant double teams just to keep him from topping 200 yards receiving in every game and he also requires something else â€“ a long term contract.
Now, I’ve argued both for and against the retention of Bryant in Dallas. I have always questioned his maturity and decision-making while also acknowledging how incredibly talented he is as a pass catcher. In this discussion, you can’t name any other receiver who’s better. This will be true for the next two to three years minimum.
Beyond the aforementioned time frame, Bryant is still going to be among the top five receivers in the NFL, and this is precisely why the Cowboys need to keep him around.
If Bryant actually thinks that he’ll get a contract that rivals or surpasses piers like Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals or Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, he’s flat-out wrong on that. The market for top-flight wideouts is being re-established, and rightly so.
But the Cowboys may have only been waiting to see exactly whether or not they were going to restructure Romo before actually getting into heated negotiations with Bryant and his new representation.
I have to think that this week’s developments mean that Dallas will finally start getting serious about Bryant.
I don’t, on the contrary, think that a push for Peterson is in the works.
It simply makes no sense that the Cowboys would pay Peterson as much as half of what he’s expected to make this coming season (this would never happen anyway) while passing on the opportunity to go ahead and give that money to Murray.
First off, Bryant is in his prime and it’s widely accepted that he’s the best at his position.
Second, the coming NFL draft at the end of this month is well-stocked with running back prospects.
A 30-year old Peterson, even for as good as he is and has been, makes no sense as an addition to the Dallas offense.
I certainly don’t rule out Peterson arriving at Valley Ranch later this month, possibly as part of a pre-draft trade. This is possible but still unlikely. I say this despite The Landry Hat’s very Steven Mullenax accurately pointing out the widespread media speculation that room has now been made for Peterson.
My money is on Bryant getting a long term extension, which ensures that he’ll be a part of the entire offseason regimen and fully prepared to help America’s Team push deeper in the playoffs in 2015 than they have in two decades.