With the July 15 deadline approaching, the Dallas Cowboys are trying to sign Dez Bryant on a long term contract instead of having the wide receiver play next season on a franchise tag.

The Cowboys used the tag on Bryant so he wouldn’t get away like DeMarco Murray (it was always going to come down between the two), but he still hasn’t signed the tender, and both sides, for a second straight season, haven’t been able to agree on a new, long term deal. If there’s no new deal by July 15, Bryant will play under the franchise tag, paying him $12.823 million next season.

Dez Bryant

Bryant, because he hasn’t signed the tender, doesn’t have to show up at the mandatory June 16-18 minicamp unless he signs it before. He wasn’t part of the voluntary offseason program, but did show up at Valley Ranch from time to time, going through some individual drills. Switching agents last year probably didn’t help the two sides come to an agreement.

Bryant has been fantastic these last three years (five in the NFL overall), establishing himself as one of the best wide receivers in the game, if not the best at the moment. He led the league in touchdown receptions with 16, catching 88 passes for 1320 yards. Over the last three seasons he is averaging 91 receptions, 1311 yards and 13.7 touchdowns a season.

Cowboys executive vice president, Stephen Jones, makes it seem like no one is in an actual rush to get the deal done, but the Cowboys would like to finish these negotiations before the deadline and not go into the next offseason worrying about closing this deal once more. Two years of working at it is long enough.

We know he will be a Cowboy this year. 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. Some guys are at peace to play out a year and do what they do in terms of what the franchise tag represents. I’m sure we’ll continue to make some progress on that. I’m sure everybody is aware of that date.

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