After a week of rumors and speculation about extension negotiations between Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, the star wideout showed on Sunday why he’s deserving of a lucrative new contract, torching the Jaguars in London for 158 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Bryant’s camp doesn’t expect to work out a long-term deal with the club at this point.
Cole indicates that the Cowboys seem reluctant to engage in serious discussions about a long-term extension for now, making the franchise tag a more plausible option for Bryant. The 26-year-old said a week ago that he’d be “highly disappointed” if the Cowboys franchised him, but according to Cole, the club still has concerns about Bryant’s maturity, and aren’t sure how he’d handle getting a huge multiyear contract.
In the view of Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Bryant would be far better off if he forced the Cowboys to use their franchise tag on him rather than accepting the sort of long-term offer the team reportedly put on the table. That proposal, which is rumored to be for 10 years and $114MM, but with just $20MM guaranteed, is similar to the deal signed by left tackle Tyron Smith earlier this year. It provides some short-term security, with more guaranteed money than the franchise tag would be worth, but it also gives the Cowboys virtually all the power — the team would essentially get to make year-by-year decisions on Bryant for most of the rest of his career, while he wouldn’t have the chance to opt out of the agreement.
Both sides appear to be playing hardball as Bryant’s free agency nears, with the receiver joining Roc Nation and the team launching a P.R. attack against Tony Romo‘s favorite target. At this point, the Cowboys using their franchise tag on Bryant looks like the most realistic scenario, but there’s still plenty of time for the two sides to find common ground on a longer-term arrangement.