As was the case yesterday, the preponderance of today's epic newsfeed will concern Dez Bryant's contract...with the obvious bonus that we were able to get out of speculative mode, as a deal was happily agreed to before the deadline.
Once we've finished breaking out the champagne, let's take a chronological look at Wednesday's doings, shall we?...
In an article filled with Irvin-esque hyperbole, The Playmaker makes offers one very salient point:
"Where Dez’s great emotional leadership comes in is when it’s late in the season and everybody is tired. Now that emotional leadership becomes key to getting you through. When you’re down at training camp and everybody is tired, now that emotional leadership becomes key to getting the team where they need to go and preparing. That is what the Cowboys will miss."
Phillips with a morning wake-up and a little history to go with our coffee:
The Cowboys have franchised three other players since the league adopted the tag in 1993: offensive tackle Flozell Adams (2002), safety Ken Hamlin (2008) and pass rusher Anthony Spencer (2012 and 2013). Spencer signed his consecutive tag tenders fairly quickly in the offseason and never received a long-term deal. Adams played the entire 2002 season on the one-year tag tender and signed a long-term deal a couple of months later. Only Hamlin got a new contract by July 15 – on July 15, specifically.
The Jints' OG opines on the franchise tag:
"I know the money is guaranteed but it’s still a fraction of what they would get if they were in the open market or if they got a new deal. I think we need to explore getting rid of this thing when the time comes in a few years to getting a new CBA.
"We allowed that in the CBA so we have to deal with it."
On the other hand, he's not totally opposed to its recent application, especially if Dez Bryant were to make good on his holdout threat:
"I’m totally OK with Dez Bryant sitting out week one. I think everyone in our facility would be OK with that. We will not be disappointed if he does not play week one."
Archer noted that the clock is ticking and, if it runs out, that we'll likely be on Dezwatch again a year from now:
It all sets up the possibility of the Cowboys and Bryant going through the same dance again next year. A second franchise tag would guarantee Bryant roughly $28 million in 2015-16. The team would have the option to use the tag a third year, but the price would go up considerably to the quarterback franchise tender.
As the Dezline approached, Fish wrote a piece to explain what he's been 'splainin' via Twitter for some time now - the distinction between guarantees and "virtual guarantees" that protect the team down the road:
The Lions' Calvin Johnson contract -- a seven-year, $113 million extension signed in 2012 -- is surely in Bryant's mind. That's $16.1 million per season, while Dallas reportedly is just now moving toward $13 mil a year. But those are big, round numbers that don't take into account "guaranteed" money. Dallas wishes Dez' new deal to be reflective of the $100-mil contract it gave to tackle Tyron Smith last summer. That deal includes what the club calls $42 million in guarantees -- but half of that is virtual guarantees, meaning there are stipulations attached
The tenor of the day began to change for the better.
The first glimmer of hope. And then:
Following suit, Phillips proffers the deal's importance:
In 75 career games, Bryant ranks seventh in team history with 381 catches and 56 touchdowns, and in 2015 he conceivably could move as high as third all-time in catches behind only Jason Witten (943) and Michael Irvin (750). Drew Pearson, currently in third place, has 489.
In the wake of the big signing, Archer reminds us of what Number 88 brings to the offense:
The Cowboys' offense would have been OK without Bryant. Tony Romo has made it work with receivers at all levels since becoming the Cowboys' starting quarterback. The offensive line would have been good enough to make things just good enough.
But Bryant changes the dynamic of the offense.
He can score from anywhere on the field. There are few receivers in the NFL like that.
As coach Jason Garrett likes to say, defenses know where No. 88 is on every play, and they do as much as they can to slow him down.
Writing over at FOX Sports, Tiny Jim shares his thoughts on what the Dez signing means:
Firstly, it secures the team with one of the NFL's top wide receivers for what is likely to be the remainder of Tony Romo's career. As Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has been fond of saying this offseason, there's likely only a three-to-five-year window remaining for the Pro Bowl quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
With Bryant and his 56 career touchdowns on board, Romo can be sure he'll have one of the game's best talents to throw to for the duration of that.
In an article that relies too heavily on tired memes, Marvez manages briefly to hit the emotional jackpot:
This, too, had become personal with Bryant and Jones. The passion Bryant shows on the field is the same he holds for the Cowboys organization. He takes great pride in having taken the mantle passed by Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin to cement himself as the next great Dallas wide receiver to wear jersey No. 88.
Eatman offers the most eloquent assessment of Bryant's value, and it starts in Oxnard:
Forget the Allen Iverson line of "we talkin’ about practice," because these practices make a difference, especially the way Dez participates. Not since Michael Irvin was running routes against air an hour after practice in the triple-digit heat of Wichita Falls have I seen a player practice like Dez. He sets the tone with every practice and his teammates take his lead.
When he starts talking trash to Brandon Carr in a 1-on-1 drill, he carries over his enthusiasm to the next play when Cole Beasley is battling with Orlando Scandrick. And before you know it, he’s in Devin Street’s ear trying to pump up before or after a battle with Tyler Patmon. And so on, and so on.
Before you know, the entire 90-man roster is going at it because Dez is out there setting the tone.
While it looks like he’s playing the antagonist at times, like last year when he ended up fighting with J.J. Wilcox, it actually gives the defense a chance to rally around each other and create even more camaraderie.
That’s Dez. That’s what he brings to this team, and it’s happened from the moment he stepped onto the field in 2010 in San Antonio.
Wednesday was a great day for Dez and his family:
Here's The Babe on who came out ahead in the deal:
I think they were both winners. No matter the exact figure, Dez is a very rich man, and if he takes care of his money, this will keep many generations of Bryants financially secure. He basically just hit a winning lottery ticket. It helps the Cowboys by lowering what would have been a $13 million cap hit. The two sides had a vested interest in getting the deal done, and when that is the case, it usually gets done. And it just did.
Helman's piece features some very choice quotes from Number 88. I'll share a couple of them here:
"I smiled the whole way over here – I couldn’t even say nothing but just smile and laugh, because I couldn’t believe it," Bryant said. "All I could just think about is that it’s a dream – a dream come true. I think the only thing that’s missing is a Super Bowl."
"It’s the first time I’ve ever been in this kind of situation, and it was extremely hard," he said. "It’s the whole reason why I came out to OTAs. I knew I was going to hear it from my agent, I was like ‘I don’t care.’"
On his holdout threat:
"I’m a very passionate person, and I’m one of those guys that – I am that guy that, I have to stand by my word, because that’s how I want to raise my babies. It was all me. It was honest," he said. And a last word: "Now that we’ve got the deal done, I can only imagine what’s fixing to go down this season," Bryant said. "We’re Super Bowl ready."
Fitting that Dez’s son w/ him to sign. Contracts like this can create generational wealth. Big day for his family. https://t.co/OXHLcYRdLd— Derek Eagleton (@derekeagleton) July 15, 2015
It was also a pretty great day from the Jonses' perspective:
First, some insight on where, and when, the deal was made:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his son, Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president, flew to New York and spent five hours Tuesday night meeting with Bryant's Roc Nation representatives, sources tell ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal between the team and Bryant was reached during those meetings.
Stephen Jones conducted a radio interview after the deal was done and had a lot to say about it. Here, he discusses the particular difficulties this deal presented:
As we mentioned, (we’ve) been pretty consistent in referring to this negotiation as a very difficult one because of the market. You had two players who, two receivers, you had some really big contracts several years ago that were coming off the old rookie wage scale and because of the structure of the contract who were due to make some big numbers under the franchise tag. It really pushed the teams to try to find the deal that they could do and still keep the players. So it was tough to get your hands around that as it compared to what historically was going on in the receiver market. So it did make it very difficult.
The new deal, Phillips writes, reaffirms a position that the Cowboys have had for months: They always intended to make sure Bryant was a Cowboy for many years to come. Here's Jerry:
"We know Dez well, and as well as we know him, you see the kind of commitment that we’ve made here," Jones said. "That says everything about what we feel about him on and off the field. He’s made tremendous strides since he came out of college relative to his complete maturation. "There was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted a long-term deal with Dez. We just had to get the pot right."
Here are the numbers, from a variety of sources:
From the article came this useful chart:
Dez and Demaryius both $70M/5yrs Dez - $45m inj guar, $32m full gua, $45m by March '16 DT-$43.5M inj gua, $35M full guar, $43.5M by 2/17/16— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 15, 2015
Dez Bryant's base salaries: 2015 $3m, 2016 $9m, 2017 $13m, 2018 $12.5m, 2019 $12.5m— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) July 15, 2015
Moore stops to examine a term that has been flying around a a lot in the past few days: the "virtual guarantee." What the heck is a virtual guarantee, he asks, and how does it differ from an actual or full guarantee?
Bryant has a virtual guarantee of $45 million in his five-year, $70 million contract. It’s not a full guarantee, although he and the Cowboys expect that he will receive every dime of that amount. The Pro Bowl receiver is guaranteed $32 million from this point forward no matter what happens. The final $13 million of that guarantee isn’t due until March of 2016. Bryant must be on the roster in March to receive that money.
As soon as the numbers came out, it was time for all the pundits to weigh in...
The Sturminator weighs in on the contract news:
It’s a deal that had to get done. I think both sides can claim great success and a win for various reasons. But overall, this is another step to insuring a successful offseason and maybe the most vital. To have Dez, who I feel like is their best player, under contract for the duration of his prime can only be celebrated as a very positive step.
After reviewing all the pertinent stats form 2014, Massey concludes: Expect to see him live up to the new contract that he has received, and to put up even bigger numbers than he did last season. Dallas and their fans should be happy that this new deal is done, and that they will have him around for a long time to come.
Dez Bryant Contract Grade: A-
Of course, BGN weighs in with a snark-ridden "too much money" take:
The contract includes $45 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. That's a lot. For comparison, Calvin Johnson's top wide receiver deal is worth $48.8 million guaranteed.
Wait until they hear that only about two-thirds of that amount is actually guaranteed. Poor Eagles fans...
Believe it or not, there were a few articles written about topics other than Bryant's contract...
Today's NFC East beat writers roundtable question concerns the proverbial hot seat. Here's Todd Archer's (spot on) answer:
But I’m going with Chip Kelly. The Eagles' moves this offseason have been all about Kelly. The trade of LeSean McCoy was at first called a salary-cap move, but then the Eagles put big money into DeMarco Murray and solid money into Ryan Mathews. I’m not ready to say Kiko Alonso will be a star the way McCoy is a star. The trade for Sam Bradford is a huge risk considering the quarterback’s injury history. They have taken an interesting route with their receivers. If this doesn’t work out for the Eagles, then Kelly will have nobody to blame but himself.
Kaplan sets up a piece that is essentially an extended interview with Jimmy Johnson with this summary of Chip Kelly:
The coach staked his future on an injured quarterback in Sam Bradford, traded 2013 rushing champion LeSean McCoy and cut one of the league’s best guards, Evan Mathis. Fans in Philadelphia simmered, hypothesizing how (and when) Kelly’s gutsiness would implode. "The city is obsessed with Chip Kelly, because he drives us crazy," says Howard Eskin, the longtime Philly sports talk radio host. "But Chip doesn’t care. The reason he’s influential is because he doesn’t get influenced by what people think."
Yates breaks down the five best offensive position groups for the upcoming season, including the Cowboys big uglies:
The Cowboys have been ardent in their investment in the offensive line, and the return has been worthwhile. With an above-average starter at each position last season, Dallas paved the way for the league's most consistent rushing attack. There's a case to be made for Smith, Frederick and Martin as the very best at their position in the league already, and each is just 24. Leary and Free are dependable and tough, while Collins provides a unique upside player who can fill in at perhaps both guard and tackle spots if needed. Smith might be the preeminent offensive building block among non-quarterbacks in the NFL, with incredible athleticism/length and nine years remaining on a contract extension he inked last July.
Archer's roster ranking countdown continues, with roster spots 21-30, which are arguably the most important if a team is going to have a deep roster. Here, we get five offensive and four defensive players...and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur. Hit the link to see who the other nine are.