Bob Sturm and Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News recently hosted a pair of digital chats with Cowboys fans, and Dez Bryant‘s uncertain contract situation predictably played a major role in those conversations. Sturm, after pointing out that an elite wide receiver generally does not offer the same type of value as an elite quarterback, left tackle, pass rusher, or corner, explains why Bryant is an exception to that rule and notes that owner Jerry Jones fully appreciates Bryant’s value to the franchise. As such, Sturm does not believe that Jones is panicking, and although the July 15 deadline to get a long-term deal worked out may be too close for comfort for Dallas fans, it is an eternity away for someone like Jones. Sturm still believes a deal will get done, and that it will probably happen right before deadline day.
There are some who believe that the Cowboys simply do not want to offer a long-term deal to Bryant, who has had some off-field concerns in his past. But Sturm’s comments regarding Jones’ love of Bryant belie that idea, and Cowlishaw believes the possibility that the Cowboys really don’t want to do a long-term deal with Bryant is very slim. Instead, even though there is a chance that a receiver like Demaryius Thomas, A.J. Green, or Julio Jones will break the bank before Bryant gets a new contract, thereby forcing the Cowboys to fall in line with a $100MM+ mega-deal, they appear willing to take that risk and just let the process run its course, confident in the knowledge that they will get a deal done in the end.
Sturm reiterates that no one really knows what Bryant’s demands are, or what the Cowboys are willing to offer. The last proposal that the Cowboys extended included a contract with a value of over $100MM but with just $20MM or so in guaranteed money, which would be less than market value for someone like Bryant. If Dallas has not bettered that offer–and it sounds as if the two sides might not have had substantive discussions in months–then public perception would certainly be on Bryant’s side. Ultimately, the Cowboys will probably have to raise the guaranteed money to the $30-35MM range, which would give him more guarantees than any receiver not named Calvin Johnson.
And reading between the lines, that appears to be how this stalemate will be resolved. Sturm applauds the hardline stance that the Cowboys have taken with Bryant, especially considering how willing the team used to be to hand out massive contracts to players like Marion Barber and Jay Ratliff, but they realize how valuable Bryant is to the franchise, and Bryant realizes that, for all of his talent, the current CBA climate does not offer him a great deal of leverage. So even if the next couple of weeks make Cowboys fans sweat a bit, the prediction here–not a bold one, to be sure–is that Bryant will be playing his home games in Dallas for the foreseeable future.