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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cowboys' Dez Bryant wants to stay in Dallas "for life" despite salary cap issues

By on 2/04/2014 09:30:00 PM

The Dallas Cowboys constantly are in the media spotlight.  Whether it's owner Jerry Jones giving the weekly injury report or quarterback Tony Romo getting back surgery, "America's Team" is always gracing the sports networks.  Wide receiver Dez Bryant is the latest focus, as he was approached by reporters while playing basketball at the Gridiron Celebrity Hoops charity event in Harlem this weekend.

Bryant has been with the Cowboys since the 2010 draft when they selected him 24th overall in the first round.  He came to the Cowboys after three years at Oklahoma State where he was a solid receiver, amassing 2,425 yards and 29 touchdowns in college.  

Right before training camp began in July 2010, Bryant and the Cowboys agreed on a deal for five years and $11.8 million, with $8.3 million guaranteed.  Five years means his contract will expire after next season and he would become a free agent in the spring of 2015. Despite the glaring fact that 2015 is far away, there is much more to consider.

AJ Guel via Wikimedia Commons

Within his contract, Bryant is due to make a base salary of $1.78 million in 2014, a far cry from less deserving receivers in the league.  In this past season he boasted big numbers with 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns and played in all 16 games. 

This past November, right in the smack of the season,  reported that Bryant was seeking a long-term contract with the Cowboys, and would start the process right when the off season hit.  That time is now.  Considering the fact that he would be grossly underpaid in most eyes, reporters found him over the weekend and asked if he would ever consider going to another team.  Bryant was adamant that he does not want to leave Dallas.
"Hell no," Bryant said. "I don't even think about leaving Dallas. I'm Dallas forever."
As bold as his words are, the Cowboys are in a rough spot due to the salary cap and penalties handed down by the league.  In the final season of Bryant's contract, he would count for only $3.1 million towards the salary cap, but the Cowboys currently are more than $30 million over the salary cap in 2014, making it harder to find the money to pay Bryant.

In his four year career with Dallas, Bryant has 4,104 yards and 40 touchdowns.  Aware that he is trying to get a long-term contract with more money before the 2014 begins, the Cowboys have a lot of decisions down the road.

While it won’t be impossible to shuffle money to get the cap situation within line, they’ll need to clear at least $35 million to $40 million in order to sign draft picks and other veterans and extend Bryant’s deal, especially if he’s looking for high-end money.  Considering he is coming off back-to-back 90-catch, 1200-yard seasons and has scored 25 touchdowns in his last 32 games, Bryant has solidly earned Calvin Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald kind of money.

Even if the Cowboys want to extend Bryant’s deal, it could be difficult if not impossible to do it.  The other option is to not touch his contract, and force the all-star receiver to finish out his rookie contract and tag him as a franchise player, regardless of how unfair that would be.  Bryant is well worth more than his current contract allots, but the question of how much the Cowboys are willing to give to their standout receiver remains.


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