By most accounts, Jerry Jones is a generous soul, prone to bestowing untold kindnesses upon the people he holds near and dear.
In fact, if the NFL didn’t have a salary cap, Owner Jones conceivably could be half-broke by now, Dez Bryant would be the world’s richest football-catcher and the Dallas Cowboys would have a dozen Lombardi Trophies.
But as Jerry himself said recently, rules are rules.
“These are difficult decisions that are part of the NFL,” Jones said, upon the occasion of free agent running back DeMarco Murray signing with rival Philadelphia.
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“They are decisions that take into account the entire team, the current economic structure of the team, and the financial concerns for the short and long term future of the team.
“At the end of the day, this is about finding the best way to collectively fit all of the individual pieces together, in terms of talent, offensive players, defensive players and dollars — under the salary cap structure — that gives you the best chance to have a championship team.”
So says the man who will pay quarterback Tony Romo, who has yet to play in a championship game, $94.4 million over the next four seasons.
Bryant isn’t asking for $94 million, we think, but he doesn’t seem enthralled with the prospect of negotiating with the Joneses, owner Jerry and son Stephen, every off-season. Hence, his threat to sit out the first game of the season, if the Cowboys don’t address Dez’s long-term security by the deadline of July 15.
Would Dez really sit out a game?
Sure, why not? Bryant could recoup the lost game check in his eventual new contract. And what’s the worst that Owner Jones could do, whisper rumors about Dez’s house mates misbehaving to the NFL Network?
Whoever tried to muddy Bryant’s reputation either mistimed the alleged leak or miscalculated its impact. If Bryant were declared a free agent tomorrow, his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
Extrapolating further, a healthy, free agent Bryant next year could even attract more than the guaranteed $50 million that Calvin Johnson has.
Dez is that good — that valuable, one could argue, to a team that finally has another Super Bowl within reach.
Why play stupid money games, therefore, with Bryant, of all people?
The answer, we’re supposed to assume, is somewhere in Owner Jones’ above statement.
If he’s still considered a behavior risk, let’s hear it, because some of us don’t see it. Instead, we’ve watched Bryant mature during his five seasons as a pro.
He can be thoughtful and articulate. The TV networks focus on his fiery sideline outbursts, but Bryant and his Cowboys teammates insist it’s all about winning.
On Twitter, Bryant chattered about wanting security. He presumably means guaranteed money, something north of $28 million (because he could earn that anyway by being slapped with the franchise tag this year and next) and south of Johnson’s $50 million.
Owner Jones and Son, therefore, should just split the difference and guarantee Dez $39 million.
The last thing the Joneses should want is a healthy Bryant going to free agency, and letting the (pick one) Seahawks, Eagles, etc., set his 2016 price.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. If the two sides can’t agree by July 15, Bryant may well miss a game. Why not?
Clocks are ticking everywhere, frankly. Romo’s clock. Owner Jones’ clock.
The Cowboys’ “best chance to have a championship team” is now. Risking any part of that without their best player seems a foolish risk.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697