As negotiations on a long-term contract continue between the Cowboys and Dez Bryant‘s camp, the team’s two primary decision-makers spoke to reporters, including Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, about the situation. Both owner Jerry Jones and chief operating officer Stephen Jones expressed optimism that the Cowboys will eventually work out a long-term extension with their star wide receiver, downplaying recent reports about potential concerns about his maturity.
“What we want to do is have an agreement for the rest of Dez’s career,” Jerry Jones said. “To me, that says a lot about the concern about off-the-field [issues] if we want him on the Dallas Cowboys for the rest of his career. … I’m real impressed with how he’s evolved over the last several years, or we wouldn’t be in serious contract negotiations with him. So I think all of that is where it really is, and I do look for us to get something done with Dez.”
Meanwhile, Stephen Jones indicated that the team has offered Bryant “some really nice contracts.” Of course, it’s fair to assume that the team’s definition of a “really nice” offer may not match up with the wideout’s definition. Based on reports to date, it appears the Cowboys are attempting to lock up Bryant to a contract structured similarly to the extension signed by left tackle Tyron Smith earlier this year.
Smith’s deal is lucrative — if he plays it out, he’ll end up earning more than $100MM. However, it’s also extremely team-friendly, locking Smith up through the 2023 season with plenty of outs for the Cowboys, but none for the player himself. All of Smith’s guaranteed money will be paid by the time the 2015 season ends, meaning Dallas would essentially have club options on him for the next eight years. As Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets, Bryant would be better off being franchised for the next two years than accepting an offer like that.
Of course, Bryant has already suggested he’d be “highly disappointed” if the Cowboys used their franchise tag on him. Still, it’s something Dallas will have to strongly consider, especially if the team intends to sign running back DeMarco Murray to a multiyear extension of his own. As Machota outlines in a second Morning News article, Jerry Jones said he feels the team can “absolutely” bring both offensive weapons back, and if that’s the case, it seems unlikely that both players would get long-term deals. However, Stephen Jones pointed out that the club certainly isn’t preparing to use its franchise tag quite yet.
“The furthest thing from our mind is the franchise tag,” Stephen Jones said. “If you ask me about that, I know we have the use of it. It’s business. But our intentions are to sign Dez to a long-term contract.”