Dez Bryant’s days with the Dallas Cowboys appear to be numbered.
There is no other way to explain the team’s continued vague and noncommittal stance about his future.
One day after vice president Stephen Jones doubled down on his rhetoric regarding the team's impending decision about Bryant’s $12.5 million salary case - while also comparing it to the emotional retirements of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin - coach Jason Garrett took an unusually cryptic stance Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
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Asked directly if he wanted Bryant to return to the Cowboys in 2018, Garrett said the team has not had any specific personnel meetings about any players yet.
“You know we haven’t had any specific personnel meetings about any of our players,” Garrett said. “We had a wrap-up meeting at the end of the season, almost reviewing what happened last year and we’ll have some more meetings starting this week and then once we get back to Dallas about the specific roles for each of our players going forward."
Now Garrett had no problem talking about the importance of signing guard Zack Martin to a long-term contract extension, what running back Ezekiel Elliott learned about his tumultuous season and six-game suspension, and quarterback Dak Prescott's bright future.
But when it came to the team’s top receiver, he was vague and spoke in generalities.
Asked if he's talked to the front office about Bryant’s contract, considering that Jones has been very pointed about the Bryant conundrum since the beginning of the offseason, he again punted.
“Obviously, there are a lot of decisions we have to make with our team,” Garrett said. “Like we talked about earlier, your 2018 team will be different than 2017. We have some guys who are out of contract. We have some guys who have different kinds of contracts you have to discuss every year. So we haven't had specific conversations about any of those guys yet.”
It’s a decision that is coming sooner rather than later, according to Jones.
The Cowboys will ask Bryant, 29, to take a pay-cut or release him.
What’s interesting is they have no meetings set up with Bryant’s representatives, as of yet.
At issue is Bryant’s decline in numbers since signing a five-year, $75 million contract extension before the 2015 season.
Beforehand, he put up three straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.
Since then, Bryant has failed to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark and has not had double-digit touchdowns.
Last season, Bryant led the Cowboys in receptions (69), receiving yards (838) and touchdown catches (6), but also ranked among the league leaders with a career-high 12 dropped passes.
Injuries are part of the story for Bryant as he suffered a fractured foot in 2015, causing him to finish the season on injured reserve and undergo off-season surgery.
In 2016, he missed three games with a fractured bone in his knee.
And while he didn’t miss any games in 2017, he battled through an ankle injury and knee tendinitis.
While acknowledging the injuries, Garrett refused to expound on why Bryant’s numbers have dropped so dramatically.
And while he refused to commit to Bryant’s future with the Cowboys, he did praise him for his past performances, his passion and his growth.
"We have a tremendous amount of love for Dez Bryant as an organization," Garrett said. "He's made so many contributions to our team. I personally have a lot of love for him as a player and more so as a person. The growth and development that he's made over the course of his career with us has been exponential and has made a huge impact on our team.
"He's been a great player for us for a long time."