The vast majority of people seem to take the "pay the man" view of the situation, but the situation is hardly that simple. Bryant is looking at the Calvin Johnson deal, but the team may not be able to afford that.
The Cowboys' decisions of today will have ramifications two, three, four, five years down the road. Though the cap continues to go up, they have to be mindful of other players who will be hitting free agency, the ballooning cap figure of Romo and other unforeseen issues.
Maybe in the past the Cowboys wouldn't have been so aware of the cap or would be more willing to structure a contract in a way that would keep forcing them to re-work the money to create room, which is something that ultimately led to the release of DeMarcus Ware after the 2013 season.
If Bryant and the team don't reach a long-term deal, then he is stuck with playing under the franchise tag, right?
Well, not exactly. He can still negotiate a new, one-year deal. It just can't be for longer. So there is a realistic reason why he might want to sit out a couple of games, as Chris Mortensen explains.
So consider this hypothetical example: Bryant misses the first two games of the 2015 season, and the Cowboys start 0-2 against NFC East rivals New York and Philadelphia. Under such a scenario, Bryant could sign a one-year deal for $14.5 million to end the stalemate in Week 3, which means he'd make up the $1.51 million he'd lose out on by sitting out the first two games.
Bottom line: Bryant misses games, the team suffers and Bryant doesn't really lose money for games missed.
Again -- leverage.
A lot of people seem to think Bryant is playing this just right.
Dez Bryant is a genius right now, because he's called out Jones and the Cowboys. Since the deadline is just two days away, Bryant knows that he can use his leverage to potentially devastating effect by trying to scare the crap out of Jerry Jones and the organization. It might not work, because unlike in the past (Dan Bailey is my favorite example of this), the Cowboys aren't paying "their own" handsomely anymore after once having perennial cap issues with "kicking the can down the road" as their only option.
Jon Machota presents the case for why the Cowboys do need to work something out, listing Bryant behind only Johnson. And given their ages, Bryant may be ahead of Megatron in a year or two.
2.) Dez Bryant. Bryant has become the NFL's best redzone wide receiver. He led the league in touchdown receptions last season with 16 and he leads all receivers in TD catches over the last five seasons with 56. "Obviously, Calvin's the standard across the league," Tony Romo said before facing Detroit in January, "but Dez has done such a great job that I think both teams are very happy and very proud to have the guys that they have."
The loss of Bryant for even a couple of games will have a domino effect on the entire game plan.
Without Bryant, the Cowboys could lean even more on the run. They want to continue their run-first mentality in 2015 anyway. But how much more difficult would it be to run the ball without Bryant on the field to prevent the extra defender in the box?
Romo's job would be even more difficult.
The grounds for the case are now known, although given the seeming miscommunication that has taken place between the two involved, this may not stand up well in court. But we will see.
It was first reported two days ago that the union was looking into the possibility of collusion between executives from both teams; now, the NFLPA believes it has the evidence to proceed with a case. The union's evidence stems from a reported conversation between Bryant and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones in which Jones told Bryant that he had discussed their contract negotiations with Broncos team president John Elway.
If the Players Association can prove its claim, one or both players could be awarded a payout worth up to three times what Calvin Johnson, the NFL's highest paid receiver, makes at roughly $16.2 million per year.
With the NFLPA getting involved and the hangover from the negotiations, plus the fact that it is Dallas, after all, this looks like a pretty certain bet. But, hyperbole much?
The fact is, if Bryant misses only training camp, it could devastate the Cowboys' chances. He is that good and that important to everything they hope to do on offense.
There was no depth in the receiver corps even with Bryant. Without him, it would easily be the worst in the league.
You know things are getting weird when the fan site for the Philadelphia Eagles starts heaping praise on a Cowboy. (But, as if to reassure us, they still have plenty of outdated memes and misconceptions salted in the article.)
Because make no mistake about it, you are better than Calvin Johnson. Since you entered the league in 2010, you are 5th in yards and 1st in touchdowns. And you did that being thrown to less than Steve Smith, who made the Pro Bowl only once during that time. You did that without being the only guy on your team worth throwing to, because you've had Romo's best friend in the whole wide world Jason Witten siphon passes away from you. Calvin Johnson racks up the stats because the Lions have no one else, he's been thrown to 174 more times than you have, yet you have more touchdowns than him in that span. And that timeframe, like the Cowboys, isn't fair to you. Johnson was a three-year veteran when you were a rookie. In your first five years in the league you have 381 catches for 56 touchdowns, in Megatron's first five years he had only 366 catches and 49 touchdowns despite being targeted 75 more times than you. You were better than him then, you're better than him now.
Now for the smattering of other Cowboys news, starting with a nice piece of fluff to get away from all the worry and angst.
America's Sweethearts, folks.
CMT's longest running non-music series, "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team" reached nearly 2 million total viewers across all CMT platforms weekly last season.
While we are so focused on the Dezline drama, we should remember that there are 52 other roster spots on the team.
So, here is Lance Dunbar. He is on the roster because we just showed you how he can break off a screen, cause the Seahawks to scramble, play WR in the slot, and add value to your roster by being a special teams guy. That is what he is.
What he is not is a RB option for full drives and your full playbook. They don't like giving him the ball on a hand-off, except the shotgun zone, packaged play. They definitely don't want him pass protecting, unless it is a chip on the edge to help a tackle. No 1-on-1s, please.
This year is his last rookie contract deal which will make him $1.5m and based on all of the talk about Ryan Williams' health, it would seem that Dunbar is a cinch to make the team this year. But, how they use him in 2015 will go along way to determining his value moving forward when he gets a chance to be a UFA next spring.
Ray Vinopal is one of the UDFAs trying to find his way onto the roster or maybe the practice squad.
Vinopal wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine this past February, but his 26 reps on the bench press at his Pittsburgh Pro Day were better than all but one defensive back in Indianapolis. He obviously faces a tough task of being situated roughly sixth on the safety depth chart - whereas most NFL rosters typically only carry four or maybe five safeties. There are plenty of good examples to follow on this roster, though. Barry Church, Danny McCray and Jeff Heath were all in his situation as rookies and made the team.
It's an intriguing question, and all four options presented here make some sense.
Rob Phillips: If Jason Garrett read this question he'd probably cringe - all 90 guys need strong training camps, right? I'll spotlight Brandon Weeden here because he's gotten much fewer offseason reps behind a healthier Tony Romo than last year when Romo didn't participate in the spring due to his surgically-repaired back and never practiced more than two straight days in training camp. The Cowboys need their second-year backup quarterback to remain sharp because Romo, no matter how good he feels, is always one hit away from the sideline.