When the Sheriff Stephen Jones leads the Dallas Cowboys into trying to guilt, and or bully, Dez Bryant into a pay cut, he needs to think about an old teammate first.
No, not DeMarcus Ware. Not Doug Free.
Dez, before you have your meeting about taking that pay cut, think about Brandon Carr.
In March 2012, the Cowboys signed the free agent Carr to a five-year, $50.1 million deal. Three years later, the Cowboys wanted a do-over.
The Cowboys had successfully re-negotiated to lower the contract figures for Ware and Free, so doing the same with Carr should not have been hard.
Carr is a good guy, and he knew he was overpaid. He also knew it's not about what you're worth, but what you can get.
In the spring of 2015, Carr knew what everyone else did: He might have been overpaid, but there was no one else behind him on the depth chart. He had leverage.
The Cowboys liked Carr, and Carr liked the Cowboys. The Cowboys just didn't like Carr at that number. But that was not Carr's problem.
When the Cowboys approached Carr that spring to reduce his $8 million base salary, the man did not blink. He dared the tough-talking Cowboys to cut him.
The Cowboys blinked, and Carr remained on the team at his contracted figure for 2015. The following year, the Cowboys again approached Carr about accepting a pay cut. Then he knew it was time. He agreed to lower the figure.
Not long after the Cowboys asked Carr to take his cut, in the summer of 2015, the Cowboys signed Bryant to a five-year, $70 million extension. Three years later, the Cowboys want a do-over on that deal, too.
Led by Sheriff Stephen and deputy coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are talking tough with the man whose production has dropped in three consecutive seasons, yet he still is their best wide receiver.
Led by Stephen, the Cowboys have embraced the philosophy of not paying age, of avoiding high-price free agents, and getting tough on under-performing players. The doctrine embraced by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots is solid, provided there are better, cheaper options available.
Meanwhile, Jerry Jones said at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that he wants Dez on the team. Of course, Jerry will always say that he "reserves the right to change my mind."
Dez, it's not your problem your team does not like you at $12.5 mil. This is one of those 50/50 balls you are so good at catching, so go get it.
At $12.5 million due in 2018, Dez is overpaid but, like Carr in 2015, there is no one else behind him on this team, or elsewhere.
There are no guarantees in free agency, and none as a rookie in 2018.
You want Terrance Williams as your No. 1? The Cowboys tried that in 2015 and the results were terrible. Do you want Cole Beasley as your No. 1?
Antonio Brown ain't coming to town, either.
The Miami Dolphins are reportedly dealing Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of draft picks, so that option is gone. If it ever was an option.
The draft? The learning curve for rookie wide receivers is such that no team, with few exceptions, can plan for that player to be a top-end threat in his first season.
Trades? Don't plan on it.
Free agency? The Cowboys have intentionally avoided the high-end neighborhood of free agency since the Carr contract.
Jacksonville wide receiver Allen Robinson, 24, is the type of player who could appeal to Stephen's conservative preference on free agents.
And Robinson could be better than Dez Bryant. Focus on "could."
Between 2015 and '16 combined, Robinson had 153 receptions for nearly 2,300 yards and 20 touchdowns. But he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 1 of the '17 season, and now his Buyer Beware status should reduce his asking price.
Are any of these types of options better than Dez?
The Cowboys' passing game was awful in 2017, and Dez must accept part of the blame. He can whine and cry about it, but as his team's designated go-to, big-cash receiver, he was a thunderous dud of ish.
His production has been off for three consecutive years, and that can't all be because his relationship with Dak Prescott isn't as chummy as it was with Tony Romo.
Dez is getting older, and he's not winning one-on-one routes as often as his quarterback needs.
He was never the best route runner in the league, but can still go get it. He was never the type of receiver who was going to age as well as a Larry Fitzgerald.
Dez is not a bum, and he's not worth $12.5 million. But like Brandon Carr in 2015, that's not Dez's problem.