Dez Bryant Has No Leverage In His Contract Battle With The Cowboys


Wide receiver Dez Bryant wants a lucrative long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys and in a desperate attempt to exercise the only leverage he has, the Pro-Bowler is threatening to hold out for at least the team’s first game. But the reality is that Bryant has almost no power in this showdown and the Cowboys’ leadership knows it.

The first problem for Bryant is that he plays a position that, while it is glamorous, it is far from the most important cog in the offense. There are few, if any Super Bowl Champions who built their offense around a wide receiver.

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If one were to compile a list of the best current wide receivers in the NFL, (Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, Bryant, the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, the Atlanta Falcons’ Julio Jones, the Cincinnati Bengals’ A.J. Green, the New York Jets’ Brandon Marshall, and Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos) there would be no championships to be found among the group. The truth is that almost every team to win the Super Bowl has been build around a quarterback, a running back or a dominant defense.

Even Hall-of-Fame receivers that won championships were not the best players on their team. San Francisco’s great wide receiver Jerry Rice was less important than quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young just as the Cowboys’ wide receiver Michael Irvin was a complimentary piece to running back Emmitt Smith in the 1990’s and the Steelers’ legendary receiver Lynn Swan took a back seat to running back Franco Harris and the team’s famous Steel Curtain defense in the 1970’s.

Bryant deserves to be paid as one of the top wide receivers in the game but the Cowboys are simply not going to devote $15 million or more of their salary cap to a player that will touch the ball less than ten times a game on average. Though the NFL is more of a passing league than ever, wide receivers do not lead their team championships like a quarterback, running back or defense can.

Bryant will either have to come to grips with the reality that he is not going to be paid as much as the Miami Dolphins paid wide receiver Mike Wallace last year ($15 million). Nor will he receive a contract similar to that of Calvin Johnson who is in the middle of a seven-year $113.4 million deal with an average annual salary of $16.2 million.

Another disadvantage for Bryant is that the Cowboys are not operating financially like they did a decade ago. They’ve been in salary-cap purgatory and seem committed to not making that same mistake again.

In 2014 the Cowboys redefined their identity. They have assembled a dominant offensive line and will count on their running game and the play making of quarterback Tony Romo to be the focal points of the offense while allocating their resources more wisely to ensure depth across the roster.

If Bryant is unwilling to take a more reasonable deal, it is likely that Dallas will not only utilize the franchise tag on him this year (meaning his salary is to equal the average of the five highest paid players at his position) but next year as well. While he will be paid well ($12.5 million dollars and possibly $17 million plus if he is franchised again next year) it appears that he is not going to be able to work out the type of long-term deal with a huge signing bonus he desires because the Cowboys have finally learned not to make that type of mistake again.

Knowing that he is in a position of weakness, Bryant is playing what he thinks is his ace in the hole. But his threats of holding out of the team’s first game are hollow.

Bryant is too competitive to voluntarily sit out a game, especially a nationally televised game against the New York Giants and their second-year wide receiver phenom Odell Beckham Jr. Also, consider that he would forfeit $781,250 for every game he holds out and that is a high price to pay to make a point that is likely to gain no leverage.

Just as everyone knew Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson’s threat to retire if he wasn’t traded was a hollow attempt at using what little leverage he had at his disposal, so is Bryant’s threat to sit out any regular season games similarly impotent and desperate. For a man concerned with money, it would make little sense to forfeit $781,250 in an attempt to win a battle that he is destined to lose.

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