It’s only June, and already we’ve got more drama from Dez Bryant. The outspoken Dallas receiver is reportedly threatening to skip the Cowboys’ season-opener against the New York Giants if he does not secure a contract extension before July 15.
Is this just posturing from Bryant, or is this a legitimate possibility?
“Well, even if it’s just posturing, I don’t agree with it,” former Cowboy and current FOX Sports NFL analyst Daryl “Moose” Johnston said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That could be a conversation you would have behind closed doors with the organization, but you don’t want that out in the open with the media and everything. People have to remember: Everybody keeps going back to (how) Emmitt Smith missed the first two games (in 1993). Emmitt was not under contract. Whether Dez likes it or not, he was tenured the franchise tag. He is under contract for next year.”
Bryant, 26, is slated to make $12.8 million this season.
“Now, everybody’s working towards a long-term deal,” Johnston said. “It’s probably one of the main reasons why DeMarco Murray is in Philadelphia. They understood that they couldn’t match that contract and be able to sign Dez Bryant to a long-term contract. The way the league has shifted, Dez become the difference-maker. The approach that Dallas is taking is we’ve got a great offensive line. Yeah, we don’t have DeMarco Murray and that production – and, in my opinion, the style. He ran with a physical style. I think he inspired (his teammates). I think the team kind of fed off that offensively. That’s going to be difficult to replace.”
Bryant, to his credit, has been as consistent as it gets. In his last three seasons, he hasn’t missed a game and has 88+ catches, 1,200+ receiving yards and 12+ touchdowns. Last year, he caught a career-high 16.
“He’s just a unique guy,” Johnston said. “He’s one of the elites in the NFL at the wide receiver position. The defensive coordinators that we talked to when we’re getting ready to do a Dallas game, (they have) sleepless nights trying to figure out (how to mix) up the coverages (with) double teams (and deciding when to roll) the dice to one-on-one coverage. He’s the guy that you have to go long term with, and he has to understand that that’s what they’re trying to do – but it has to be done in a right way. Dallas has become fiscally responsible the last three to five years. They’ve gotten their salary cap back in order. You don’t want to get out of whack again right away, so this has got to be a contract that works for both sides. And that’s why it’s going to be difficult. It’s got to be fair to Dez, but it’s also got to be fair to the organization.
“But when you come out and say I’m not going to be there for the opener – even though I’m under contract – it just sends the wrong message to the team and to the fan base,” Johnston continued. “And I think he missed a golden opportunity this year. For the first time in three years, Tony Romo has been at OTAs, has been at minicamps, he’s been able to participate and throw the football – and Dez should have been there with him. Keep building that rapport. Keep building that connection that you have with your quarterback.”