Dallas Cowboys: So What If Dez Bryant Holds Out?


With Dallas Cowboys training camp not scheduled to begin for roughly another seven weeks, the number one question surrounding America’s Team is whether or not wide receiver Dez Bryant actually holds out.

So what if he does?

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Yeah, yeah; I know that this could jeopardize a victory over the New York Giants on September 13th, Bryant suggesting this week that he might go so far as to miss the season opener on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Again, so what if he does?

Last weekend, The Landry Hat’s very own Steve Mullenax posed what, in my opinion, is an even better question for the Cowboys to ponder right now. This inquiry ponders the potential of number two wideout Terrance Williams actually replacing Bryant, either for a limited or longer period of time.

To start with, I’m not suggesting that Williams is as good of a wide receiver as Bryant is. However, I do think that the former can take on the role of number one wide receiver – and sooner than later. To be clear, former Cowboys receiver Alvin Harper was not as good as Michael Irvin, but I do believe that Williams is better that Harper was.

So long as Bryant thinks that he deserves quarterback money in Dallas, owner and general manager Jerry Jones should probably keep his eyes on a successor to Bryant. If he ends up reaching a deal with the former Oklahoma State University star, great.

But if not?

There’s no question that Bryant will play in Dallas in 2015, even if it’s for only a portion of the season. Bryant only stands to lose money by holding out, unlike the situation concerning running back Emmitt Smith back in 1993. Smith didn’t have a contract at all, but Bryant has one worth just under $13 million for this coming season.

Elsewhere at The Landry Hat, columnist Tyrone Starr makes a case this week that it’s time to pay Bryant, a sentiment I tend to agree with, but I don’t believe it’s the right time or move to break the salary cap in the way that Bryant seems to want, period.

The real deal is the fact that the market for wide receivers is clearly being reset. Ridiculous and roster-killing contracts given to Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals have forced the entire league, including those two franchises just named, to dramatically rethink the overall value of this position.

Bryant, and his relatively new representation, don’t seem to agree. I could be wrong because I’m not involved in these negotiations, but this seems to be the case. I’m not even completely sold that this financial impasse has much, if anything, to do with restrictions or regulations on Bryant intended to safeguard the franchise against any potential misgivings off the field.

Either way, Bryant has to play ball.

Starr makes this point in the article referenced above:

"The problem is that it is not the responsibility for the player to lessen his worth. Bryant has a finite amount of time to earn the most money possible. If Jones does not think it’s financially prudent to assist in this venture, I’m pretty sure there are 31 other franchises who would love to do so."

Here’s the kicker though: It is the responsibility of any player to accept the fact that the market for his position is in a state of fundamental readjustment, and rightly so in this case. Further, I have heard of nothing suggesting that there’s any other franchise waiting to pony up the kind of money Bryant is asking for.

You heard of anything resembling what the Cowboys pulled in 2000 for franchise tagged receiver Joey Galloway, then with the Seattle Seahawks? Galloway represented the same type of problem for Seattle that Bryant does Dallas right now.

Moving on, the idea that just because one player makes a certain amount of money means that another player has to have the same amount, or more, is pretty baseless, at least in professional sports.

Bryant’s attitude, again with a contract worth more than his entire career, to this point, staring him in the face, shows a complete ignorance of other expensive parts of the Dallas roster already in place . While it’s true that Bryant creates a lot of opportunities for the Cowboys passing attack, we really have to put on the breaks when temped to make it all about him.

As great of a talent as Bryant is, you think he’s catching 16 touchdowns over the course of any season with backup quarterback Brandon Weeden under center? You think he makes back-to-back Pro Bowls if left tackle Tyron Smith isn’t there protecting starting quarterback Tony Romo‘s blind side?

If so, think again.

The reality is that the Cowboys don’t really have the money available to pay another top-tier salary, especially as they wait and watch for who on defense needs to be locked up following ’15.

What if Greg Hardy averages a sack per game during his first season as a Dallas pass rusher – but then there’s no money for him next year? What if it’s time to commit, long term, to middle linebacker Rolando McClain after a better season than last?

At this point, I start considering the need for a strong number two wide receiver to pair up with Terrence Williams and third receiver Cole Beasley – sorry, but Beasley needs to stay in the slot.

You know how many Super Bowl rings are worn by elite, “diva” wide receivers like Terrell Owens, Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson, Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson?

Exactly zero.

No, it matters not where Bryant stands when compared to those guys above, but in the case of Owens and Moss at the same point in their respective careers, I can’t say that Bryant is clearly better.

Again, and for all of their on-field heroics and memorable plays, wide receivers simply don’t touch the ball often enough to break the bank for. The position itself has taken a real hit over the years by the behavior and perception of several of the game’s best.

If I was Dallas general manager-in-waiting Stephen Jones, I would trade Bryant for whatever I could get for him. As crazy as this might sound to some, I don’t see a long-term solution for Bryant with the Cowboys. The better he gets, the more he thinks he’s worth – and we’ll be doing the very same thing next year.

Time to move on.

Next: It's Time For The Dallas Cowboys To Pay Dez Bryant