Dallas Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones has been the bad guy before and he will be the bad guy again, if necessary.
It was son Stephen who worked over owner Jerry Jones before he gave Deion Sanders a $13 million signing bonus in 1995.
It was Stephen who convinced his father to cut Terrell Owens and it was Stephen who led the charge to veto Jones’ plan to draft former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2015.
And now it’s Stephen Jones who is setting himself up to be the heavy in the looming decision on wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Or the “Dez situation” as he called it on the Hangin’ with the Boys podcast on the team’s website Monday _ given the veteran receiver’s advancing age, declining production, his distracting antics and his $12.5 million base salary for next season
Bryant led the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (838) and touchdown catches (six) this season, but he also was among the league leaders with 12 dropped passes.
He looks nothing like the player he was from 2012-2014 when was considered one of the top five receivers in the game, prompting the Cowboys to give him a five-year, $70 million contract extension before the 2015 season.
Injuries have played a huge role in his decline in production, but so has the quarterback change from Tony Romo to Prescott.
It all has presented the Cowboys with some questions to answer as they consider what to do about Bryant and his contract going forward.
Asking him to take a pay cut or be cut is a definite possibility.
Stephen Jones readily acknowledges that some hard decisions regarding Bryant have to be made.
On the Dak Prescott and Dez chemistry:
“The Dez situation has a lot of moving parts to it,” Jones said. “The chemistry between Dak and Dez is different between Tony (Romo) and Dez. Tony and Dez had their game tailored to one another. Dak doesn’t play the way Tony played. It hasn’t hit on all cylinders on how the connection works. It’s a work in progress.”
On Bryant’s sideline antics:
"The other thing that we all see and it is certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline, is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field,” Jones said. “Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez. It can be a distraction for other teammates.
On Bryant’s future:
"And we just have to really get our hands around, when you put all the full body of work together, where that's headed,” Jones said. ”Of course, we pay Dez a lot of money, and he knows that. He's as aware of it as anybody. ... He knows when you get paid that kind of money there's high expectations in terms of the productivity. ... Those are all things we have to look at as a team, as an organization when we start to put our team together for next year."
Jones seems prepared to carry the big stick again.