Dallas Cowboys

Dez is not a No. 1 so he should not be paid like it

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had three receptions against Philadelphia.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had three receptions against Philadelphia. AP

A season of boundless optimism and hope came to its puny, punting, pathetic cold conclusion on a frigid Philly field in front of a few thousand fans.

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon because they scored more points. How many points? Doesn’t matter.

(OK, fine — for the record, the Cowboys defeated the Eagles 6-0).

The Cowboys finished 2017 with a 9-7 record, and by winning Sunday moved down the NFL draft ladder. Hope the win was worth it.

Exactly what their greatest position of need will be impacted on what the team does with it’s No. 1 receiver, Mr. Dez Bryant.

On Sunday, Dez caught three passes for 24 yards, and while he believes in himself, he best prepare for the paycut that he does not want.

Dez wants to sit down and chat with owner Jerry Jones this off-season, which if the Cowboys were smart they would sell tickets to watch. There is so much potential material in that conversation it would be worth a 30-minute show.

Dez said he thinks the scheme hurt his production, and Jerry still likes Dez. So there is a relationship to be maintained here. At what price?

Not at $12.5 million, which is Dez’s salary for ‘18. He is still this team’s best receiver.

Dez should not openly lobby for a paycut, and he should fight it, but if he wants to remain a Cowboy he’s going to have to swallow a hard chop to the wallet.

1. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is not going anywhere, but he ain’t getting dumb money. He finished with 14.5 sacks, but fell way off in the second half. In his final eight games, he finished with four sacks.

Despite the fall off in production, Tank is the Cowboys’ best pass rusher. He is only 25, and the Cowboys might be able to generate two or three more highly productive seasons from him.

He’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and because he’s a pass rusher he will be in high demand. Which is why he’s going nowhere, but don’t expect the Cowboys to give him a long-term deal.

The more likely scenario is the Cowboys will use the franchise tag on Tank, which will be in the area of $17 million for the 2018 season. That should be enough to live on for at least a year.

The last time the Cowboys used the franchise tag was for defensive end/linebacker Anthony Spencer in the 2012 and ’13 seasons.

The Cowboys like Tank, and they will keep Tank, but they are not going long with Tank.

2. In 2012, Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams graduated with a degree in General Studies from Baylor. That academic sequence might not have included math or geometry. The Cowboys faced a third-and-5 near midfield with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter when Williams seemed to forget ... well, everything. He caught Dak Prescott’s short pass, and immediately signaled, "first down."

Just one problem. Williams ran a 2-yard square in, leaving him about 3 yards short of the line to gain.

2.5. The Cowboys have a kicking problem. Kicker Dan Bailey is missing field goals, and extra points. He missed both on Sunday. Keep an eye on Bailey in training camp.

3. Tyron Smith missed the game because of a knee issue, and if you are looking for one player to be worried about on this team, it’s their All-Pro left tackle. In the past 18 months, Smith has dealt with a knee, a back, and a groin issue. Next year will be his eighth in the league, and he’s only 27. The types of nagging injuries he has dealt with over the past two years, specifically his back, that should be a major worry for one of this team’s most indispensable players.

His replacement on Sunday was veteran swing backup Byron Bell, who likely has played his way out of the league. He was called for three penalties ... through the first three quarters.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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