Dez Bryant has no interest in taking a pay cut and hopes to stay with the Dallas Cowboys next season.
“I haven't heard no talks of that, but if it comes ... I don't know, probably not,” Bryant said. “Hell, no. I believe in me.”
But the wide receiver allowed that if he was forced out for financial reasons, given his decline in production that doesn’t match the $13 million salary he earned in 2017 or the $12.5 million he is expected to earn in 2018, so be it.
“(Shoot), I don't know. But if that came about, I'm still Dez Bryant,” Bryant said. “I'm still going over the top. If it's there where I can grab it, I'm going to grab it. It's just who I am.”
It was part of a 16-minute conversation Bryant had with the media Wednesday when he talked about his season-long frustrations and poor play that included concerns with the Cowboys’ passing scheme and playing with tendinitis over the past seven games.
Bryant has 66 catches for 815 yards and six touchdowns in 15 games this season. He’s also dropped 12 passes and hasn’t had a 100-yard game since Nov. 13, 2016, a span of 22 games. It’s all part of a continued declined in production since he signed a five-year, $70 million contract extension following the 2014 season.
Bryant has missed 10 games with injuries and has only 147 catches for 2,012 yards and 17 touchdowns in the past three season combined.
Bryant plans to speak with owner Jerry Jones first, then coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan about the scheme, which he believes has limited his opportunities and caused his decline in production.
But he also took personal responsibility in saying a lack focus and getting out of the game mentally because of his frustrations played a role in his poor play.
“I feel like for the most part I can only do what I can control,” Bryant said. “A bit of times, hell yeah, frustrated, certain situations I couldn't control. Other than that, I believe in who I am. I'm a hell of a football player. I know that. I believe that. I let a lot of things get in the way that bothered me mentally. I feel like, if anything I need to deal with in the offseason, is that, only certain things I can control.”
Asked to elaborate on the things that bothered him, Bryant declined, but made references to the scheme and his inability to run certain routes. He said it affected his play, resulting in the drops and fumbles.
“Me personally, just wanting to do different things,” Bryant said. “Probably at the time I should have focused on what I could control. I let a lot of things get in the way. I wish I didn't. I feel like that affected, I know for a fact, some of my play.”
Bryant made it clear he has no issue with quarterback Dak Prescott, even though their lack of chemistry has consistently been raised when talk turns to his diminishing impact.
“My relationship with Dak is 100. He knows that right off the rip,” Bryant said. “That's far from the issue.”
Bryant took no issue with Prescott’s comments after last Sunday’s 21-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks that included two drops and fumble from Bryant. Regarding one of the drops, Prescott said he had to put the ball in Bryant’s facemask for him to avoid drops.
Prescott tried to walk it back Wednesday.
“There wasn’t more to that,” Prescott said. “Honestly, it was probably more frustration upon myself than anything. Yeah, the guy was wide open. Put the ball in his face. It wasn’t the whole fact of me saying for him to drop it, it was the obvious fact that he was wide open and I know I can make a better throw – to put it right there in his facemask. Yeah, it’s frustrating we’re not doing exactly what we want to do and we’re not playing up to expectations, but we’re going to learn from it and we’re going to keep going.”
Bryant said the comment was blown out of proportion by the media and he has no issues with Prescott, who he says is going to be a great player. He said the problems with the passing game and his chemistry with Prescott are about the scheme.
“I think at times this year they really have clicked and they’ve done some really good things,” Garrett said of the Bryant-Prescott connection. “And then other times it hasn’t been quite as good. There were a couple plays in the game the other day where they weren’t necessarily on the same page and they were bad plays for us. One in particular was the interception that was tipped up in the air for them when we were down in the red area. So again, the biggest thing you have to do is you go back and evaluate it. You make sure they get on the same page as they go forward.”
The players want to be on the same page too.
“Me and Dez are great,” Prescott said. “Frustration on the field, off the field, it’s not going to matter. We’re true friends. Whether we do hit a bad spot or not, we’re good enough friends, we’ll be able to get around it. He’s got all my respect on and off the field. He’s a great person. So we’re good.”
And let Bryant tell it, aside from the tendinitis, he is good and still the same dynamic player he always was, despite the numbers saying otherwise.
“Some of the film I see, I’m running routes a lot better than this person and this person,” Bryant said. “It’s all about the opportunities. Hey, it is what it is. Hey, I’m Dez Bryant, baby, all day.”
But Bryant also stressed that he was partly responsible for his struggles because of a lack of focus and taking his frustrations to the field.
“I felt like a lot of times I looked damn good,” Bryant said. “Then, I'd get to thinking about certain things and — you know, it bothers me. That's all I can say."
And that’s what he wants to deal with and focus on in the offseason _ not a pay cut or talk about playing for another team.
Asked he wants to stay in Dallas, Bryant minced no words.
“Hell yeah,” he said. “I'm a Texas boy, all day.”
Dez Bryant upcoming milestones
▪ Needs four receptions to reach 70 catches on the season for the fourth time in his career
▪ Needs 85 yards to reach 900 receiving yards in a season for the fifth time in his career
▪ Needs five points to top Bob Hayes (456) for fifth all-time in total points in team history
▪ Needs two touchdowns to become the 34th player in NFL history to reach 75 career receiving touchdowns