Fort Worth

Stephen, Jerry Jones Involved in Tug-of-War Over Dez Bryant

The winner will tell you a lot about the future of the franchise

This tug-of-war between Jerry and Stephen Jones over Dez Bryant is fascinating - and it's eventually going to shape the Cowboys' future.

Jerry Jones, the sentimental one, wants to keep Bryant on the roster. Stephen Jones, the pragmatic one, seems determined to move on from the Bryant Era.

Put your money on Stephen Jones ultimately winning this battle.

They've had these tug-of-wars before: in 1995, Jerry won and the Cowboys signed Deion Sanders to a seven-year, $35 million deal. After the 2008 season, Jerry relented and cut Terrell Owens because he was wrecking the franchise, despite catching 69 passes for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Remember, the Cowboys have already shown us they're capable of moving on from Bryant. They went hard after receiver Sammy Watkins the first week of free agency and they were disappointed and somewhat surprised he didn't sign with them because they offered virtually the same money as Kansas City.

Had the Cowboys signed Watkins, we wouldn't still be talking about Bryant because he'd probably already be with another team.

The conversation about whether Bryant remains with the Cowboys or continues his career elsewhere remains the hottest sports topic in Dallas.

Anywhere I go - church, the gym, the barber shop, the gas station - folks want to know whether Bryant is staying or going.

The Cowboys' all-time leader in touchdown catches (72), has had his production drop dramatically over the past three seasons.

He's scheduled to earn $12.5 million this season, and Stephen Jones has been adamant that Bryant's contract must be restructured, which means the pay cut police are coming for Bryant.

More important, none of the most powerful people in the Cowboys' organization will guarantee Bryant's spot on the roster.

"We're going to sit down," Jerry told reporters last week. "We've got a lot to talk about, and I don't want to say or not say anything that will imply Dez won't be a Dallas Cowboy."

Again, he wouldn't take that stance with any other key player on the current roster because he knows all of them from Elliott to Jason Witten will be on the team next season.

Bryant's spot on the roster is tenuous because it's clear Stephen Jones doesn't think he's a good fit for Dak Prescott.

You can choose to disagree, but the Cowboys are all-in on Prescott, who struggled the second half of last season. He passed for an average of 188 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions in the last eight games.

Too many times, he threw errant passes. The Cowboys believe the return of Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith, who missed three of the last eight games, and better mechanics will make Prescott a better passer.

Bryant has not a 1,000-yard season in three seasons and his streak without a 100-yard game is up to 22.

He's always been a player who relied more on his physical prowess than technique, so he never developed into a consistently good route runner. This offseason he's working with the same route-running coach Antonio Brown uses.

The reality is Bryant and Tony Romo had an uncanny rapport that he's never, ever going to have with Prescott.

Jason Garrett seems to understand that, which is why the Cowboys hired a receivers coach who specializes in teaching the nuance of running routes.

Stephen Jones seems to understand it too.

"We can do some things to help (Dak) more. Dak is a guy who's little different than Tony - probably more like Troy in terms of the passing game," Stephen Jones said on The Doomsday Podcast last week. "He wants precise routes. He wants to throw the ball on time to areas whereas Tony would improvise a little more.

"...Dak is a little more disciplined in terms of wanting the receivers to be good route runners and be where they're supposed to be and those types of things."

Stephen Jones also said on The Doomsday Podcast that Lal will, "hold our receivers accountable for running precise routes."

All of that sounds like Stephen Jones is referring to Bryant.

The Cowboys have attended workouts for Alabama's Calvin Ridley, SMU's Courtland Sutton and Texas A&M Christian Kirk. It seems like they're trying to figure out if there's a player worthy of taking in the first two rounds.

If they do, we'll know Stephen Jones won the tug-of-war with his dad.

Contact Us