7:12PM: For anyone who doesn’t believe that Bryant is serious about missing actual game time during this contract dispute, the superstar wide receiver is doing what he can to make it convincing. “This is no rumor; it’s legit,” Bryant told Michael Silver of NFL.com (via Twitter).
2:41PM: The Cowboys and Dez Bryant still have more than a month to work out a long-term contract, but if the two sides don’t strike a deal by the July 15 deadline, the star receiver will consider not reporting to the team for its regular-season opener, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com.
While the Cowboys’ decision-makers, including executive VP Stephen Jones, have said publicly that they want to get a multiyear extension done with Bryant this year, the team hasn’t been aggressive about pursuing a deal, Mortensen suggests. Joel Corry of CBSSports.com hints at this as well, tweeting that he can’t blame Bryant for taking an aggressive approach to contract discussions, given the Cowboys’ negotiating stance, “or lack thereof.”
Bryant, 26, received the franchise tag from Dallas earlier this year, which includes a one-year contract offer worth $12.823MM. Like most of 2015’s other franchised players, Bryant has yet to sign that tender, meaning he’s not subject to fines if he misses the Cowboys’ mandatory minicamp next week, or training camp later this summer.
Still, Bryant did make an appearance at one of the club’s OTA sessions, and participated in individual drills. It’s hard to imagine him sitting out a regular season game due to his contract situation, particularly since his options will be limited if no deal is reached by July 15. After that date, teams aren’t permitted to sign franchised players to long-term contracts until after the season.
In my view, this is simply a negotiating tactic and an attempt to regain some leverage for Bryant, who could push the Cowboys to modify his one-year tender offer even if the two sides don’t reach a long-term agreement. Dallas’ deal with Greg Hardy featured a clause that doesn’t allow the team to use its franchise tag on the defensive end in 2016, and Bryant may attempt to get a similar clause in his own one-year contract, barring a multiyear extension.