Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be far apart on a contract extension going into today’s 4 p.m. deadline. That is, until the two sides agreed on a 5-year $70 million dollar deal with $45 million guaranteed. This came after the star wide receiver threatened to “sit out meaningful games” if necessary. Bluff or not, that proclamation pushed the deal through and let the Cowboys and Bryant avoid a disastrous start to a promising season.
The early indication was that Bryant wanted “Calvin Johnson type money,” but nobody really knew what that meant. Was he talking about the length of the contract or the sum of the contract?
It turns out Bryant was keying in on two other areas…guaranteed money and salary per year. Bryant will make more guaranteed money with this contract than anyone at his position. As far as per year salary, he will be slotted at $14 million which will be second only to Johnson’s $16 million.
There are many people out there that will take Johnson over Braynt every single time. Who could really blame them? Johnson possesses ideal height, strength, speed, leaping ability, and hands of gold to top it all off. He is a once in a lifetime type of talent.
Let’s not overshadow Bryant though. The gap between the two is not as wide as people might think. Comparing the each player’s first five seasons in the NFL the numbers are almost identical:
Johnson: 376 Receptions, 5,872 Yards, 49 TDs
Bryant: 381 Receptions, 5,424 Yards, 56 TDs
Bryant clearly gets the short end of the stick because he has had off the field issues. He has been the victim of public perception. First, there were the “Dez Rules” which required him to have a chaperone follow him around as if he were nothing more than a rambunctious child. Then there was talk about a “Ray Rice-like tape” that was going to be released. Well, months have went by and there is still no tape. In an era, where reporters can get medical records on amputations, one would think a domestic violence tape would have surfaced by now.
In my opinion, the Cowboys had a lot less leverage than reports made it seem. Yes, they could sit back and collect money, but what about the on the field product. Was money really going to stand in the way of success? There are a number of reason this deal was made quickly by the Dallas front office.
First, they obviously wanted to keep your star happy and locked up for a long period of time. They couldn’t have their best offensive player sitting out games. With the first couple games being against the Giants and the Eagles, Dallas couldn’t afford to go 0-2 in the NFC East. Along with that, sitting out would mean Bryant would be missing training camp. That puts Bryant at risk for nagging injuries. We’ve seen many players sit out and come back only to pull hamstrings or tweak ankles because they weren’t properly prepared.
Furthermore, the Cowboys can’t afford to have anybody else miss the start of the season. They already have Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy sitting out the first four games for separate league violations. The good news is that they will get often injured linebacker Sean Lee back, but who knows for how long. Point is, they can’t just hope they can flip the switch Week 5 and everything be sunshine and rainbows. They have to be in a groove when those guys are able to come back and ease them in.
I think the bigger picture is that Dallas is in win now mode. Let’s face it, at best, Tony Romo has only a handful of quality years left. The Jones family can’t let his most dynamic threat sit on the bench and waste their quarterback’s last few shots at playoff runs.
In the end, I think both sides can be happy. They can breath easy for awhile and focus on football. Bryant outplayed his rookie deal and is deserving of every cent he will be getting.
Picture from: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports
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