In the last couple of seasons Dez Bryant has turned into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, which means that sooner or later, he’s going to be paid like one as well. Heading into the final year of his rookie contract, the Dallas Cowboys have begun negotiations with the pro bowler on his future deal.
Bryant will be making $1.78 million in 2014, but the Cowboys might already sign a new deal with him before the season begins. According to executive vice president Stephen Jones the talks with the player have begun, and there’s a very good chance that they’ll wrap things up even before the season begins, although the talks might spill into actual playing weeks.
One thing the Cowboys don’t want to happen is for Bryant to hit free agency. They aren’t in the greatest of cap situations for a number of years, and find it very difficult competing for certain players in the open market, with one or two wide receivers always getting huge deals via free agency despite not always being worth that kind of investment.
Bryant has caught 185 passes for 1615 yards and 25 touchdowns over the last couple of seasons, becoming Tony Romo’s favorite passing option, sometimes even more than Jason Witten who has always bee that default guy. All questions about Bryant’s off-the-field behavior and mental strength to handle the pressures of being the team’s number one guy have evaporated, as he seems to deliver just as promised.
One big issue will be the type of contract the Cowboys give Bryant. Usually high-profile receivers get a big signing bonus but a reduced salary for the first few years of the deal to help the salary cap. The problem with that is keeping players motivated, and the Cowboys have had bad history with Roy Williams and Miles Austin who got big extensions but disappointed once the big money came flowing in.
The Cowboys will try a different approach with Bryant, they’ll try to make it about higher base salaries with an exit option for the team if things don’t work out with the 25-year old who made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2013. The thought behind that is keeping Bryant motivated as he cashed in on big money each year, while giving the Cowboys a way out without really hurting them against the cap.
Bryant hasn’t had any significant injuries in his career since joining the Cowboys in 2010, and his off field issues are no longer a problem. In short, he has grown up, cleaned up his act and that has shown on the field, where his performances are better and more consistent. Now all he needs is to get paid like he deserves to, and to start taking the Cowboys into the playoffs, something he has yet to taste in his four-year career.