Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones says he wants Dez Bryant back with Cowboys, but will discuss contract

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and wide receiver Dez Bryant are pictured in this composite photo. (AP Photos)
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and wide receiver Dez Bryant are pictured in this composite photo. (AP Photos) Fort Worth Star-Telegram

As things sit right now, owner Jerry Jones said he wants wide receiver Dez Bryant back with the Dallas Cowboys next year.

Jones still views Bryant as a top receiver, despite Bryant's declining numbers the past three years.

But Jones acknowledges that a conversation will soon be had with Bryant regarding his contract.

And while he refused to get specific about asking Bryant to take a pay cut from his $12.5 million salary for next season, including a $16.5 million cap figure, he says he and vice president Stephen Jones, who has openly acknowledged a decision must be made on Bryant's contract, are on the same page.

Jerry Jones discusses Dez Bryant and his future with the Cowboys.

“We are not in any way off the page within the organization,” Jones said Sunday from the NFL Scouting Combine. “The reason we don’t discuss contract is that it is implies there is an issue with the contract. That is not fair to imply that there is anything until we sit down and announce we have done something one way or another.

"It takes two. It takes him and us to do anything with his contract. I’m going to leave it at that. You have asked me as I sit here do you want him on the team next year and my answer is yes.”

Jones said the meeting will occur in the immediate future, most likely before the start of free agency on March 14.

He doesn’t anticipate the meeting with Bryant being acrimonious because of the strong relationship they have developed over the years, professionally and personally.

“I have had a lot of business with Dez over the years,” Jones said. “And I have been very involved with not only his contract negotiation but in many cases, his other personal business. It’s just not awkward at all to visit. We plan on visiting with him about his business. We are both very comfortable, being very candid.

"When you have got that kind of relationship, and I do with him, then I’m optimistic when I am sitting here this time next year we would have done a real good job on his business.”

But Bryant’s decline in numbers since signing a five-year, $75 million contract extension should give the Cowboys reason for pause.

Before the 2015 season, Bryant put up three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.

Since then, Bryant has failed to reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark and has not had double-digit touchdowns.

Last season, Bryant led the Cowboys in receptions (69), receiving yards (838) and touchdown catches (6), but also ranked among the league leaders with a career-high 12 dropped passes.

Injuries are part of the story for Bryant as he suffered a fractured foot in 2015, causing him to finish the season on injured reserve and undergo off-season surgery. In 2016, he missed three games with a fractured bone in his knee.

And while he didn’t miss any games in 2017, he battled through an ankle injury and knee tendinitis.

Jones said injuries and a less efficient offense in 2017 were the biggest reasons for Bryant’s dropoff.

“You credit some of it to injury,” Jones said. “You can credit some of it to just not being as efficient this year as we were the year before, not having possessions, not having offensive possession time that we had. I can start right there. All of that has a cause and effect, the chicken and the egg.

"What comes first, the performance by an individual player at a position or the time out there. I think if you got an injury situation. I think certainly last year we didn’t have the balance we had the year before that gave everybody a better opportunity to have better numbers.”

Asked if he is still a top receiver why does a conversation need to be had about his contract, Jones deflected.

If he is still No. 1, why is there a question or need to talk to him?

“I can give you reasons. I am not going to address him. But I can give you reasons. We have addressed guys in the prime of their careers on their contract before. We have made adjustments in their contracts. We continue to look for ways to improve your value on your roster.

"We are going to always continually work the economics of our roster so we can get more mileage out of our cap space. We will always be looking to do that. Guys like Dez have worked with us. And in his particular case, I will repeat I have more history working with Dez and his economics than most players that we've got history during these cap economic times.”

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