In his first five seasons in the NFL, Dez Bryant has 56 touchdown catches. Only two receivers in league history produced more during the start to their careers: Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.
There’s no denying that the Cowboys’ Pro Bowl receiver is an elite weapon. His work ethic, athleticism and physicality make him one of the game's best targets in Red Zone. And to his credit, he’s also improved his previously weak areas such as route-running, maturity, leadership and keeping his nose out of trouble.
The man deserves to be paid. And apparently he also wants to be respected.
Bryant raised some eyebrows and some questions about the slam dunk of his contract negotiations with the Cowboys yesterday. When a fan tweeted Bryant about his obvious loyalty and dedication to the team, the receiver responded, “I wish they felt the same way. But it’s cool. It’s business.”
Bryant, understandably, is growing upset that instead of negotiating a long-term, Cowboy-for-life contract with him, the team will likely settle and use the “Franchise tag.” The difference: A long-term deal will likely net Bryant a guaranteed $40+ million; a season under the tag would limit him to $13 million.
ESPN reported Tuesday that, if franchised, Bryant would skip the team’s off-season workouts in a sort of boycott. It doesn’t help matters that the Cardinals today rewarded Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald with an additional guaranteed $11 million for the next two years.
There’s no doubt that Bryant will play for the Cowboys next year, and beyond. But, even if the team is unwilling to admit it, they’re playing with fire by toying with Bryant’s emotions.
Alerted to Bryant’s tweet, Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones told reporters at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, “Well, then he’s not feeling the right vibes. We feel strongly about him. We worked hard to do a long-term deal with him, and we'll continue to work hard at it. If we don't get one, then the franchise tag just shows him how much we care about him and that we don't want to expose him.”
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This needs to get settled. Before it gets ugly.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.