Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys open minicamp facing prospect of summer without Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant, who is coming off an All-Pro season, and the Cowboys are at an impasse in contract negotiations.
Dez Bryant, who is coming off an All-Pro season, and the Cowboys are at an impasse in contract negotiations. Star-Telegram

Second-year receiver Devin Street concedes it’s a lot quieter in the locker room without Dez Bryant occupying the locker next to his.

“I definitely miss him. I’m not going to lie,” Street said. “Just that dominating force, that mentality, that mindset. He just makes everybody better. … But hey, he has to do what he has to do.”

Judging by the comments of Bryant’s agent, the star receiver won’t return to the Dallas Cowboys anytime soon.

Bryant’s agent, Tom Condon, reiterated Tuesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Bryant “is willing to miss regular-season games” absent a long-term agreement.

The sides have had no talks toward a new deal since a cursory conversation at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and the July 15 deadline looms.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “When the time comes, and there’s something that we can do that makes sense for both sides, I know that’ll happen, because they’re motivated to do it, we’re motivated to do it. Right now, there’s just too big of a divide.”

The receiver market has yet to be established.

The Cowboys franchised Bryant, guaranteeing him $12.823 million under the tag tender. The Denver Broncos gave their Pro Bowl receiver, Demaryius Thomas, the same franchise-tag tender.

Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones and Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green become free agents after this season.

All seek something along the lines of what Calvin Johnson received from the Detroit Lions in 2012 when he signed a seven-year, $113 million contract with a $16 million signing bonus and $48.75 million guaranteed.

“This is an environment right now, especially with the receiver market, that’s not exactly easy to get your hands around,” Jones said on SiriusXM. “… It’s what teams think versus what the players and their representatives think. There’s a wide gap right now.”

The Cowboys began their three-day minicamp Tuesday without Bryant as he continues to work out on his own. He showed up for individual work at Valley Ranch during a voluntary organized team activity last month, but since he remains unsigned, Bryant has no obligation to attend the mandatory minicamp.

As the Cowboys hope for Bryant’s return, they prepare for his absence.

“We’re just working on our overall depth,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “We know when Dez is out there, he’s going to be at this position. We’re going to move him to this on certain plays, and all that stuff. Right now, we’re working on if Dez wasn’t out there, what would you do?

“That’s something you don’t have if you don’t work on that. We’re sort of forced to work on that which has turned, I think, into a huge plus for us. It’s a huge plus for all the guys, Terrance [Williams], Street gets a lot more reps with the first group. We ask guys to take one step up the ladder and run those plays. I think that’s a real benefit to have the time that we’ve had in this off-season to get that done.”

Bryant likely will skip the charter flight to Oxnard, Calif., on July 28 for the start of training camp in protest. But he will forfeit $754,294 for every regular-season game he misses.

“He’ll turn up at some point,” receiver Cole Beasley said.

The Cowboys hope Bryant’s competitiveness prompts him to show up sooner rather than later.

“That’s none of my business,” Williams said of the possibility of Bryant sitting out regular-season games. “But I think he’s such a competitor to where I don’t know if he would do that. Then again, I can’t control that. Whatever he does, I’m still going to have his back, because that’s still my guy.”

Bryant, 26, earned All-Pro honors for the first time last season with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean

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