The offseason football gods have officially chosen the Dallas Cowboys as their golden child. First, there was the unprecedented stroke of draft luck that landed three first-round graded rookies in the Cowboys’ back pocket.
Last week, elite pass rusher Greg Hardy‘s ten games suspension was surprisingly reduced by 60% to four. Finally, on Wednesday a collective sigh of relief exited Cowboys Nation as Dez Bryant signed a five-year, $70 million megadeal just before the deadline.
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No one could predict how the draft or Hardy’s suspension appeal would play out for Dallas. There’s simply no rhyme or reason to either in the NFL.
But Bryant’s contract negotiations were supposed to be business as usual. He would sign a new long-term deal or play on a one-year franchise player guarantee.
Either way his presence on Sundays was a foregone conclusion. Before June, few considered a dramatic stand-off with potentially catastrophic consequences.
BRYANT THROWS A CURVEBALL
In early March, the Dallas Cowboys placed the Franchise Tag on Bryant, fully guaranteeing $12.8 million to secure his services for 2015. As all other situations like this, the team tags their star player to lock in his rights.
The parties then attempt to nail down a long-term deal before the deadline. If the deadline passes without a new deal, the player signs his one-year tag deal and collects a hefty guaranteed salary. No player to date has refused both.
If the deadline passed without a long-term deal, Bryant would’ve lost any leverage to negotiate until the 2015 season ended. League rules prohibit deals after July 15. Unfortunately, the Cowboys soon found out Dez’s presence was far from certain.
Bryant turned to Twitter stating intentions to miss regular season games without a new deal. By forcing teammates to suffer, the only thing Dez could gain is protected pride. At the cost of $752,000 per game, that type of pride is of the foolish variety.
LIFE WITHOUT DEZ?
Training camp without the childlike vigor of Bryant would’ve been a huge blow to the highly optimistic Cowboys and their fans. His constant, vocal enthusiasm during the hot August grind lifts teammates much like the previous #88 Michael Irvin did.
Then there’s the issue of lowering competition for defensive backs. Without Dez, it would’ve been much harder to get a read on cornerbacks. Rookie Byron Jones may win some battles with Terrance Williams, but competition against Bryant reveals limits.
Not only would Dallas have missed his spark and talent level, but the negative energy would’ve produced a black cloud. The blame game destined for the media would’ve diverted attention from real solutions being addressed on the field.
When the smoke cleared on Wednesday, the concerns above vanished with it. Dallas did what they had to do and Bryant signed the dotted line. We’ll never know if Dez would’ve followed through with threats to sit out games or not, which suits me fine.
All is well in Cowboys Nation with two weeks to go until training camp. Just as the Hardy reduction provided relief last week, Dallas can now “x” off another potential land mine on their path to Super Bowl Sunday.