Sometime soon, probably by the end of next week, Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant will have a candid conversation about the star receiver’s salary.
Bryant probably won’t like it because it’s going to involve the 29-year-old veteran making less money, probably a lot less money, than he was scheduled to make in 2018.
The receiver’s response and reaction will play a large part in whether he wears a blue star on the side of his helmet next season.
"We need to talk,'' Jerry Jones told reporters Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings. "I certainly have not had a thought about talking with him that did not anticipate him being with us."
“We have a way of over the years of talking about two or three things when we have our visits. But again, obviously we'll get on point relative to this off season, this coming year, his health, how he's doing, how he feels about his conditioning, working out, all of those kinds of things.
"Certainly we'll talk about our business," Jones said
That’s the most important part of whatever conversation Jerry has with Bryant, who’s scheduled to earn $12.5 million and count $16.5 million against the club’s $177.8 million salary cap. He’s making too much for a dude who’s averaged 50 catches, 639 yards and six touchdowns over the last three seasons.
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Last season, Bryant played 16 games and caught 68 passes for 839 yards and six touchdowns. He did not have a 100-yard game, and too many games ended with Bryant having a minimal impact.
There’s a chance the Cowboys could tell Bryant they want to reduce his salary to somewhere between $6 and $6.5 million, which would allow him to remain the team’s highest paid receiver, while giving the Cowboys the cap space they covet.
Allen Hurns, who signed last week, can earn up to $6 million this season. Terrence Williams ($3.50 million), Cole Beasley ($3.25 million) and Deonte Thompson ($1.8 million) are also scheduled to count more than a million against the club’s cap.
"I think that these two guys that we signed (Hurns and Thompson),” said Jones, “and what we might look at in the draft, at any level of the draft, plus what we might get worked out with Dez, gives us a good-looking receiver group.”
The key word is “might” get worked out with Bryant. Reality says Bryant’s options are limited.
More than 20 receivers have changed teams during the first two weeks of free agency, so there’s not a lot of money out there for Bryant. The teams that didn’t spend money in free agency will be looking to add receivers through the draft as opposed to spending it on a declining player who turns 30 in November.
If he gets released, Bryant will find a job quickly, but no team is going to make him among the game’s highest-paid receivers like he is now.