Stephen Jones had no interest in clarifying or walking back comments he made on a team podcast about wide receiver Dez Bryant being a distraction earlier in the week.
The Dallas Cowboys executive vice president reiterated his criticism of Bryant, who has been known for his animated outbursts on the sidelines.
“Well, Dez is an emotional guy. He plays with emotion. That’s part of his game,” Jones said. “We work with him constantly on trying to really channel his energy in positive ways. I just think when he has those type of emotional roller coasters, I think at the end of the day he needs to understand that it does affect more than just Dez. He loves his teammates. He obviously has made so many great plays for us over the years, but when you start to look at the things that we need to be better at that’s one of them.
“I think he needs to understand that it’s not something that’s just affecting him. It does affect his teammates.”
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Coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys have defended Bryant over the years for playing with passion. They don’t want Bryant to do anything that might take away from what has made him one of the top receivers in the game.
But this is a different time for Bryant and the Cowboys. The team faces a decision to make in terms of Bryant’s future with the team.
Quite simply, Bryant hasn’t been productive in the first three seasons of a five-year, $70 million deal he signed before the 2015 season. He’s failed to reach the 1,000-yard mark each season, and is coming off a season in which he didn’t have a 100-yard game.
Bryant’s $16.5 million cap hit next season is third in the NFL behind Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald. That is a hefty price tag to pay a guy who hasn’t produced at a high level and that is why his future hangs in the balance.
For now, Stephen Jones and Jerry Jones have said Bryant remains “under contract” for 2018 and there’s no reason to think Bryant wouldn’t be a part of the team.
But Stephen Jones’ comments continue to raise the question of just how contentious this decision could become in the coming weeks.
“We want to have success as an organization and you have to look at the things that weren’t so good and improve on them. It’s not just Dez,” Jones said. “There are other things that we’re looking at, and I got to look at myself, everybody has to look at ways they can be better if we want to be playing football this time of year.”
Determining if Bryant is still a viable No. 1 threat ranks among the biggest decisions on the horizon. But, make no mistake, the Cowboys are proud of the strides Bryant has made to become the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns.
“You know what Jerry thinks of Dez. He’s like a son to him,” Jones said. “He really loves Dez and thinks the world of him. His heart is in the right place. He wants to win and he wants to be the very best. We just have to channel all these energies and things in a positive way so we can be better.”