Dez Bryant is going into the final year of his contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s leaving the Dallas Cowboys anytime soon.
The team has Bryant under control for at least the next three seasons, as they can put the franchise tag on their star receiver in 2015 and 2016. That’s why owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on KRLD radio that the Cowboys are in no rush to extend Bryant’s contract.
The two sides have talked about an extension and the Cowboys would like to lock up Bryant for the long term and avoid using the franchise tag. However, that option is available, which makes it less of a rush to sign him.
“I don’t talk about these contracts that are in this particular stage,” Jones said. “[It’s] a negotiation, whether it be preliminary or whether it be at some advanced stage in the negotiation, so let’s just say we’re working towards those kinds of things.
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“We have Dez for several more years, as it would be under contract as well as with the league-type structure that’s available to us. … We think Dez has made a lot of progress, but it’s something that is going to be very impactful on our team, so it’s just not necessary to move at any faster rate than we’re moving.”
Last season Bryant had 1,233 receiving yards, 13 TDs and made the Pro Bowl.
Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye is attempting to become the first player to return to the NFL after suffering anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a difficult to diagnose and potential deadly brain disease.
In spring of 2013, Okoye had a series of seizures and was eventually put into a medically induced coma. He has been on the non-football injury list since the start of camp this season and remains a long way from playing in a game for first time since 2012.
But he has been cleared to practice with the Cowboys.
According to Jones and Okoye’s agent, Ian Greengross, the Cowboys will take their time and ease him back into full football activities.
Greengross said Okoye will “start with 10 percent contact drills and then if no adverse effects it will be increased to 15 percent” and on and on.
Greengross said he is “unbelievably amazed and overjoyed” that Okoye is at this point again after being officially diagnosed in March of 2013.
He estimated Okoye lost 90 pounds while dealing with disease. Greengross said Okoye is back up to about 290 now.
“It’s exciting news for us. He’s a good football player when he’s healthy and playing in this league,” coach Jason Garrett said.
On a defense that is lacking playmakers and stars, linebacker Justin Durant is standing out.
Coach Jason Garrett said Durant has taken charge, particularly of a linebacker unit that lost Sean Lee to a season-ending knee injury in May. And that’s not by accident.
“I really came in with a different mindset,” Durant said. “I’ve always taken it seriously, being my job, but I had a different type of focus coming into this season. I just wanted to go out there and show my teammates that I could be the next man up and I’m ready to do whatever I have to do.”
Durant has been taking the majority of the first-team snaps at middle linebacker and is seeing some time at the weakside.
The Cowboys will have a decision to make on where they ultimately want Durant, but he’s expected to start at one of the spots.
“With Sean’s injury, we needed LBs to step up and he’s certainly one of them,” Garrett said. “He’s really showing command and decisiveness playing that spot.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr. contributed to this report.