Why the Dez Bryant Contract Must Be Resolved Before Cowboys Training Camp

By Jesse Reed

Dez Bryant is playing chicken with the Dallas Cowboys, but now isn’t the time for Jerry Jones to call his bluff. The Cowboys need Bryant on the field and at his best for the 2015 season if the team has any chance of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the sixth time.

Ed Werder of ESPN reported Monday morning that Bryant informed Dallas he will miss training camp and games if the team does not give him a new contract before the deadline on Wednesday, July 15.

Dallas has extended the franchise tag to Bryant, who has summarily rejected the guaranteed one-year deal worth $12.8 million.

There are many who would look down upon a player for refusing to sign the franchise tender. After all, who wouldn’t love to pocket that kind of windfall, right?

But looking at this entire situation from a long-term business standpoint, one must realize that Bryant will undoubtedly receive substantially more guaranteed money when he signs his deal.

Consider this: Jeremy Maclin signed a five-year deal with $22.5 million guaranteed this spring to join the Kansas City Chiefs. Maclin, while a good player in his own right, cannot begin to compete with Bryant when it comes to production on the field—especially when it comes to catching touchdown passes.

In the past three years, Bryant has caught 41 touchdowns, which is five more than Maclin has caught in five full seasons. During this amazing stretch, he has hauled in 273 passes for 3,935 yards, earning his rightful place next to Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green in the conversation of “best receiver in the NFL.”

What he brings on Sundays is irreplaceable.

He’s big, strong, fast and has hands with glue deposits built-in.

He runs over, around and through the best defensive backs the NFL has to offer as if they were mere boys.

Every defense Dallas attacks must account for him with two defenders on every play, lest Bryant romp for six points.

Dallas must pay Bryant the money he is worth, and Jones would be smart to do it now.

The Cowboys are built to win a championship this year. All the pieces are in place.

With an offensive line that will pave lanes big enough for my toddler to run 1,200 yards in 2015, a Pro-Bowl quarterback and a defense that will relentlessly get after opposing quarterbacks, the Cowboys are poised to make a serious run.

But all this potential for greatness could easily be wasted if Bryant holds out.

We’ve all seen what a hold-out can do to players: they aren’t ready to perform at full strength right away. Getting into football shape requires hours and hours of work, which is the function of training camp. Chemistry isn’t something that’s earned easily, either.

Bryant and the team’s offense as a whole will perform at a much higher level if he’s there in camp from Day 1.

And don’t assume for a second that Bryant is just posturing here. While there’s no doubt Jones isn’t afraid to call his bluff, one must assume Bryant is equally staunch when it comes to ensuring his financial holdings for the rest of his life.

If he were to unfortunately suffer a career-ending injury after signing the franchise tender, then that’s likely going to be it for him for the rest of his life in terms of making millions.

Bryant has all the leverage right now.

He could hold out all year long and make up the difference (and then some) next season when he does sign the massive long-term deal he desires.

Playmakers are in high demand right now in the pass-happy NFL, and Bryant is in a league of his own in this department. The Cowboys need him more this year than he needs them, and that’s the bottom line.

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