One of the biggest question marks this offseason for the Dallas Cowboys has been the future of Dez Bryant with the team. After a down season, which is not exclusive to just Bryant, the team now finds themselves in a predicament on whether Dez is worth the $12.5 million in base salary he’ll receive in each of the next two years. Declining production and rising years of life existence have brought forth concerns. And even Stephen Jones has touched on the idea that his passionate moments on the sidelines could be a deterrent from allowing him to play at the level the team expected when they invested so much money into him.
The front office is expected to address the Dez situation, but so far - it’s been all crickets. When is this all-important conversation going to happen? Some have suggested that the Cowboys could be dragging their feet to see what unfolds in the draft. After all, the team has had pre-draft visits with receivers expected to go early in the draft - Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, and Christian Kirk. They even spent time with Courtland Sutton at his pro day, who is another WR target that should be drafted in the early rounds. The Cowboys aren’t beating around the bush about their interest in these top college players so wouldn’t it make sense to just see how the cards lie after the draft?
Well, maybe, but the team may want to get this dealt with before that. First off, there is nothing to say that drafting an early round receiver automatically means Bryant will get sent packing. Sure, his long-term future would be hazy if that happened, but there is nothing in the rules that say Dez and a top college receiver can’t line up together on the field.
The team will start their offseason program next Monday, on April 16th. Do the Cowboys want Bryant to begin his workout activities where he could be at risk of suffering an injury? Should something happen and Bryant gets hurt, all negotiation tactics would be lost as his salary would be guaranteed and they would get stuck flipping the bill for a whole lot of nothing.
In 2015, Bryant skipped the volunteer workouts as the team had placed the franchise tag on him so he was without a long-term deal. His absence from these activities protected himself against injury which would have had severe implication to his bank account should he have gotten hurt. Of course, many questioned what kind of shape he was in once he got back to camp, especially when an early season foot injury sidelined him for several weeks.
These types of things matter. Both sides are smart about it and will proceed cautiously. The Cowboys may also like to get this situation resolved so it doesn’t continue to be a point of conversation throughout the offseason. Is Dez going to be a Cowboy? Will he take a pay cut? All these questions have to be tiring for the executives, coaches, and players.
“I have not met with Dez,” Garrett said at the Cowboys’ Taste of the NFL event. “Dez is on our football team, and again, we talked about some of the moves we made at the receiver position, and they’re designed to create competition there. We think that’s going to help everybody on our team.”
And Travis Frederick:
“I stay out of it,” Frederick said. “I don’t know anything about it. I don’t think anybody knows anything about it. We just go on like things are, and that’s what we do. Whatever happens happens obviously. I love Dez. I love him as a teammate, and I love him as a person. I wish him the best, and I just hope everything gets settled.”
It would be nice for this to all be decided and to have some closure so everyone can get focused on what’s important - the 2018 season. And with any luck, that closure might happen by the end of the week.