Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s not worried about Dez Bryant’s holdout threats.
He believes the Pro Bowl receiver, who has yet to sign his $12.823 million franchise tender and is absent from this week’s mandatory minicamp, will be on the field and leading the way when the Cowboys face the New York Giants in the regular-season opener Sept. 13 at AT&T Stadium.
“If we’re still in a franchise situation with Dez, I have no doubt that he’ll be leading the way against the New York Giants,” Jones said during the team’s minicamp practice Wednesday at AT&T Stadium. “We just know how competitive Dez is and how much he wants to beat the Giants and how much he wants to support his teammates.”
Bryant’s agent Tom Condon revealed Tuesday that sitting out games at the start of the season is a legitimate option if they don’t get a long-term deal by July 15.
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Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said the gap is too wide for a deal to legitimately happen in less than a month, especially considering that there have been little to no talks between the sides in months.
If Bryant doesn’t get a deal by July 15 then one can’t be signed until after the season, meaning he will have to play on the franchise tag in 2015.
Still, not only does Jerry Jones believe Bryant will be on the field for the start of the season, but he also thinks he will be with the team when they start training camp July 28 in Oxnard, Calif.
Bryant is not required to show up for camp if he doesn’t sign his franchise tender. If he does miss games, it would cost him $754,000 each week under the tag.
Yet, Jones remains unconcerned.
“That one again, knowing that everybody wants to get as much as they can get, that one is not an issue that I’m concerned about at all as far as lining up against the Giants,” Jones said. “I know that it’s prohibitive to miss once you have the franchise tag on you and once you are part of the team through the franchise. It’s just prohibitive to miss work.
“He has been doing work. As you know, he’s been here and worked with coaches. And so my point is I’m not concerned. I think Dez will be ready to play.”
Bryant has kept close tabs on the talk in the media and decided to make a statement on Twitter.
“Everybody voicing opinions … 13 mil is cool but Where is my security? I’ll wait … 5 years without complaining … So how am I selfish?,” Bryant tweeted.
“Opinions and assumptions create a lot of noise.… Facts create silence.”
Bryant reportedly is working out on his own. He showed up for individual work at Valley Ranch during the voluntary organized team activities, but because he remains unsigned, Bryant has no obligation to attend this week’s mandatory camp or training camp without signing the franchise tag.
Jerry Jones said he has talked to Bryant in the past 10 days to two weeks and is sympathetic to his cause for security.
“I am sympathetic to it and understand it completely,” Jones said. “And I would like nothing more than to have long-term security with Dez. Now that’s where you get right down to it. We’ve worked together great for five years … The fact that he’s as substantive as he is relatively speaking to the way he came in the league, the criticism that he was taking, I was taking, is really rewarding. We’ve got more. There’s more ahead. And he’s, by the way, got a chance to be better in my view in the future. But we’ve got to get it all done to everybody’s satisfaction.
“I have a good relationship with Dez. I know he, like the Cowboys, want him to be a Cowboy all of his playing career. We value him.”
Jones wants it clear that the Cowboys are not about denying Bryant the money he wants, but looking at what’s in the best interest of the team in terms of the salary cap and other contracts they want to get done in the future.
They want to get a deal done as much as he does because keeping him on the tag at $12.8 million is punitive for the team, Jones said. But the Cowboys will not be held hostage by the date.
“We certainly have until the 15th to arrive at something, but we’ve had years to do this,” Jones said. “You don’t want to get too one way or the other about what the 15th means. We’ve got a system in place. We decided to use it. It comes at a cost to the team because we don’t get to prorate what we pay Dez.
“We’ve got to put that all in this year and so when it comes to allocating cap money, it’s not that it’s easy to do, but certainly we’ve done a lot of good work.”
Clarence E. Hill Jr.