Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones votes Dez Bryant top WR in the NFL, though his paycheck ties him for second

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) eludes Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) during a playoff game last season.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) eludes Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) during a playoff game last season. Star-Telegram

Jerry Jones did not make Dez Bryant the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. That honor still belongs to Calvin Johnson, whose seven-year, $113.5 million deal averages $16 million a season. But Jones made it known he believes Bryant has become the best receiver in the NFL.

“I think he’s right… Yes. I’m going to say yes,” Jones said in a conference call Wednesday. “I think he’s got an argument. Let me put it like this: Dez and I have an argument. We’re arguing the same thing that he’s the best. Dez and I will state our case that Dez is the best.”

In his five seasons, no receiver has more touchdowns than Bryant does with 56. He contributed 21 percent of the team’s yards from scrimmage last season when he caught 88 passes for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in earning All-Pro honors for the first time.

Better still, Bryant is only 26.

“Certainly Dez is elite in his skills,” Jones said. “He inspires our team. He is competitive. He is a proven big playmaker. He’s a very important part of not only this season but our future.”

The Cowboys paid Bryant like an elite receiver, with his $14 million a year average tied for second with Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, who signed a similar five-year, $70 million deal Wednesday. Bryant receives $45 million guaranteed after three years, including a $20 million signing bonus.

“Frankly it was expressed when we initially franchised Dez that we felt that Dez was going to make a huge contribution to our success,” Jones said. “We know what he means to the team in many different ways and he’s evolved. To his credit, he’s evolved into a player where he’s indispensible to us. That’s why we franchised him. But this is just far the preferred way to go, and we wanted to make a long-term agreement with Dez from the get-go, regarding his negotiation.

“This is a real cornerstone as we look at the pieces that we’re putting together. Now, Dez would be the first to tell you that he’s only one of a team here, but I’m sure pleased at this juncture with the pieces that we’re putting together.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @NFLCharean