Minicamp is over, next stop is training camp in Oxnard. Let's review a few things before we move on.
The Pay-88 Campaign
Words have started to float around from both camps as the July 15th deadline gets closer and closer. It's been a back and forth saga all offseason long with everything set to come to an abrupt end in a few weeks. The facts of the matter are that once that deadline hits, Dez will be locked into that $12.8 million contract. If he really plans on "sitting out" a game or more, then that's $755k per game missed. I agree with Mickey Spagnola, it just isn't going to happen. Why would any player stick their nose up at almost a million per game?
On the other hand, the very few folks that I've seen saying that Bryant is being selfish are probably the most misguided of all. As Bryan Broaddus said earlier on Talkin' Cowboys, a player has the right to want to secure his future. I prefer to take all the emotions out of it and let the businessmen handle it. Tom Condon is a great agent, I fully expect that he will try to get something done before the deadline. However, if not, then Bryant will play under the tag and the discussions will begin again next offseason. The desire to get something done is very real but so is "the gap" that Stephen Jones spoke about. Everyone is petrified to set the market, but someone will have to jump first, maybe Dallas will...it remains to be seen. Despite some media beliefs, this is all still amicable. In fact, Dez showed up to the last day of minicamp today and ended it with hugging Jerry Jones.
Greg Hardy's Ruling or Lack-Thereof
The Cowboys are going to treat Hardy exactly as they did Orlando Scandrick, he will get as many reps as possible to maintain his readiness once this is all decided. It's been over 20 days since he had his appeal with Harold Henderson, yet we have heard nothing. If everyone is expecting for Henderson to uphold the suspension levied by Commissioner Roger Goodell, why is it taking longer than any related case?
There is speculation that the NFL is trying to draw this out in hopes that it will create an even lengthier court preceding. Then there are some ideas I've heard about how they are going to try and reduce it themselves to avoid the court altogether. Who knows what is going on, really? All we do know is that Greg Hardy has been everything he's needed to be since coming to Dallas. Now that the players have wrapped up minicamp and have another month before they are set to return to training camp, common logic says it is coming real soon. With nobody in the locker room to get a reaction from, it's the best time to pounce.
Byron Jones' Serious Opportunity At Safety
Although I have spoken about the idea of just keeping him at cornerback, I won't ignore that he's been splitting time at free safety. Byron Jones is such an athletic specimen that he's always going to jump out to you. If the Cowboys feel like J.J. Wilcox is not the right fit there, the obvious answer would be to try the more natural fit in Byron Jones. Now, it was reported that Wilcox is suffering from chronic plantar fascia in his right foot. He underwent a plasma treatment procedure that should help with the healing process. He's not expected to miss any training camp time, but it is still a concern to have. Anytime you hear the word chronic pains of any sort, it's a concern.
Though Byron Jones has the traits that could translate well into a potential shutdown corner, it has been a long time since the Cowboys had a playmaker on the back end. Jones was one of my favorite players in this year's draft but due to other grabs like Randy Gregory and La'el Collins, he's gotten less attention. I imagine once the pads come on and things heat up in camp, he'll be one of the most impressive guys to watch. Whether it be at corner or safety, Jones should be so much fun to watch.
Don't Forget About Mo'
Another thing that got me thinking while listening to the Mothership's weekly podcasts was the discussion on Morris Claiborne. The work that he's put in to get back on the field is outstanding. The injury that he suffered to his patella tendon is no joke. It's hard for some guys to ever return from an injury like that. What has been noticeable is how he's kept his head up and is putting in the time to be ready by training camp. A lot of things have been said and mentioned about him over the past few seasons, but it's not like we haven't seen an ounce of a playmaker in him. He can cover ground but has had issues with his confidence and expectations. That's certainly a part of life, but I won't throw in the towel on him yet. Regardless if he's a Cowboy next year, which is unlikely barring some miraculous performance, they need him to contribute this year. Sometimes the best things happen when nobody is watching. I sure hope that Claiborne can carve out himself a role and possibly revamp his NFL career.