There is very little wiggle room when a player is franchise tagged but Dez Bryant found a little crease and decided to act upon it. The discussion of a new contract for the Pro Bowler has been mostly just media chatter but no real concrete news. Maybe this latest ploy could get the ball rolling, but still sounds unlikely at this point.
Dez Bryant is certainly the heartbeat of the team and the Cowboys can ill-afford to lose his production on the field or his passionate presence in the locker room. This is just how these things go, Bryant is looking for a deal that will keep him in Dallas for the remainder of his career. These negotiations are not always easy and it doesn't help that Dez is just one of many receivers looking to cash in. The Cowboys do not want to set the market on receivers and Bryant's agent Tom Condon hasn't shown he's willing to, either.
Stephen Jones spoke over a week ago about "making a push" to sign Bryant before the July 15th deadline, but he remained confident that they are prepared for him to play under the tag.
"If he ends up playing this year under the tag we will go right back to work again next year. Now would we like to get a long term deal on him? Of course we would. We’ll work hard to do that and I’m sure we’ll make a push at some point and see if we can make it work. If not, hopefully he will understand it’s difficult to make a deal at this point and he’ll come in and get ready to play."
Dez has yet to sign his franchise tender that would net him $12.8 million for 2015. However it should be noted that it really doesn't matter because after July 15th, Dez will be secured in that deal. Once tagged, there is no negotiations allowed after that date. Bryant will be forced to wait until the following offseason. The Cowboys are fully aware of that and so is Bryant.
So what can Dez gain by threatening a holdout? Next to nothing really unless he actually follows through with the missing of regular season games. Yet, that would mean he would have to come to terms with losing $755k per game missed. It would also mean that Dez would have to be someone that he's not.
Bryant is the ultimate team player as I wrote a few weeks ago. This is absolutely crushing him that he isn't with his team every day and it's also upsetting to some of his teammates. We know that this is just OTA's and minicamps but that's just who Dez Bryant is. If Bryant means business, he's going to have to hurt his team before business can be made.
As of now, we've heard all the stories about how he's showing up to the draft and giving rookies his phone number. He's coming in for an OTA practice and setting precedents. That is great of him to do and the coaches and players marvel at him for his efforts. However, in the same breath, that is doing virtually nothing to prove his stance on his deal. This may be a very unpopular opinion among the fans, but now Bryant should listen to his agent above anyone else.
The Jones' have taken every opportunity to praise the type of player that Bryant is and are convinced that he would never jeopardize the team. So far they have been correct and now Dez has to play the only card he has left. He surely will not be present this week for the mandatory minicamp. Nobody wants to see this team take the field without him, but Bryant has earned the right to be shrewd, too. This is the very last shred of leverage that he has and it was a well-calculated play on his part.
Sometimes you have to show some vigor in order to get what you want. Unfortunately for Bryant, he's backed into a wall with the extremely hard task of holding firm and not bluffing. So far, it's been Stephen Jones who has had the stacked deck and impenetrable poker face. Will Dallas now suddenly change their plan of action and find common ground on a new deal, or is Bryant destined to play under the tag in 2015?