Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has yet to sign his franchise tag, guaranteeing him $12.7 million in 2015.
After initially expressing dissatisfaction with the franchise tag in lieu of a long-term extension, Bryant has been largely mum on the subject.
But Cowboys vice-president Stephen Jones said the coaches have been in regular contact with Bryant and he is reportedly in good spirits and focused on getting ready for the 2015 season.
To that end, Jones said he expects Bryant to be a full participant when off-season workouts begin in late April.
“We have had good contact with him,” Stephen Jones said. “We fully expect him to show up. We haven’t heard otherwise. He hasn’t come in to sign the guarantee. The day he signs it is guaranteed. But we fully expect him to show up, come in and work out. We haven’t been told any different.”
Bryant’s agent, Tom Condon, said in a radio interview a few weeks ago that not showing up for the voluntary workouts and holding out were among their options.
The Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Bryant to a long-term deal. If no agreement is reached, he would be forced to play the 2015 season with the tag.
Stephen Jones acknowledged there has been no progress on contract talks with Bryant largely because of an unsettled wide receiver market that has Denver and Pro Bowl receiver Damaryius Thomas in a similar franchise-tag stale mate.
“I think the receiver market is not unique to us,” Jones said. “You had Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson way up here. The rest of the market is down here. And the receivers want to squeeze that differential.”
But again the team has no concerns about Bryant holding out. They expect him to be a full participant when off season workouts begin and they expect him to be ready go when the 2015 starts in September.
“I’m not worried about that at all, and it’s because of how much he loves the game, how much he knows that preparation, practice, all of that improves him,” owner Jerry Jones said. “He’s at a time in his career where he’s physically still very much improving, can get better. The biggest reason I want a long-term agreement with Dez is so we’ll have a deal with him for a long term – but not as far as impacting what we’re doing this year in terms of what Dez’s performance will be or what we are as a team. We’ve got that in place with the franchise. So I’m not worried. I know how much he loves to play football, I know how much he loves his teammates, I know how much he loves his team and I know how much money he’s getting. With all of that, you play.”
Jerry Jones acknowledges there has been no progress on contract talks with Bryant and he has no idea if a deal can get done before July. But again, he is not worried because he says Bryant will play in 2015.
“I don’t know, and Dez doesn’t know,” Jones said. “The point is, though, that the franchise agreement is set there to pay a lot of money to a player, and for a club to have some inconvenience because it can’t pro-rate the salary out. But certainly a club can pay a key player a lot of money to have success on the field. That’s why it’s there. I don’t see angst there at all. I hear angst from media, but I don’t see angst. And angst is equal – we both would like to have a long-term contract. But there’s no doubt in my mind that, without being presumptuous, without doing anything, that Dez will be on the field and a Dallas Cowboy under either of the circumstances – long-term or franchise agreement. There’s no doubt. That won’t impact us trying to get a long-term agreement in place and a long-term commitment to the Cowboys and a commitment for Dez. I don’t see any of that, absent the other.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760