With just over 24 hours until the deadline, the Dallas Cowboys and their All-Pro wide recevier Dez Bryant seem to be in a staring contest when it comes to getting a long-term contract signed. If they are unable to reach an agreement by tomorrow, then Bryant will be forced to play under the team’s franchise tag. It’s a concession the fifth-year wide out has vowed not to play under.
Unfortunately for Bryant, it’s probably his only option at this point as I don’t see how a deal gets done before the July 15th deadline. Although I’m not in the negotiations myself, so it’s purely speculation on my part, but hoping the two sides resolve their differences in this limited time-span seems to me to be a bit of a pipe dream.
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After the deadline passes, presumably without a deal in place, the ball will be in Bryant court as he’s threaten to sit out training camp and, at least, a portion of the regular season. The latest threat comes from the NFL Player’s Association saying they’ll pursue collusion claims unless both the Denver Broncos and the Cowboys agreed to long-term deals with their prospective receivers by the deadline (Broncos are in talks with Demaryius Thomas). This is an empty threat as both sides would simply need to deny a conversation ever took place.
The deadline doesn’t mark the end of negotiations as both parties can still hammer out a long-term contract after it passes on Wednesday. A future deal simply would have no relevance on this season, as far as Bryant’s 2015 paycheck or the Cowboys current salary cap is concerned.
Update: According to Mike Fisher of CowboysHQ.com, the Cowboys could work out a one-year deal with Bryant after the franchise tag deadline passes in order to continue long-term contract negotiations. This could be a viable option.
Under the tag, Bryant is scheduled to make $12.823 million in 2015. Considering there were rumors of a seven-year, $100 million contract (an average of $14.285 million a year) in the works with the Pro Bowler just last week, the franchise tag amount could actually be a savings. Although it all depends on how the contract is structured and the Cowboys would likely receive some salary cap relief this season if a deal was done by the deadline.
Should a contract ultimately be signed with Bryant to get him to stay in Dallas? Absolutely. At only 26-years old, Dez is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now. And his presence on-the-field, which causes opposing defenses to double-cover him, opens up things for the Cowboys offensively. Then throw in his 88 receptions for 1,320 yards and league-leading 16 touchdown receptions from 2014, and you have the franchise’s most important player next to quarterback Tony Romo.
I simply believe that it is unlikely that a deal gets done by the deadline, despite Bryant’s recent threats to hold out. These two sides have had years to work this out. Although the pressure of a deadline probably helped negotiations move along, unless one side caves, I just don’t think they have enough time to get it done.
So after Wednesday, Dez Watch 2015 begins.