Like him or not, Dez Bryant is an elite wide receiver and he deserves to get paid like one. Jerry Jones needs to listen to Dez when it comes to a long-term extension. If he makes the wrong move, he could sever his relationships with his best player and the Dallas Cowboys‘ fanbase.
Jones has declined to discuss the matter at this time, though I would be very surprised if a deal didn’t happen early this season. Bryant will only be making $1.78 million in base salary this season. Does that sound like what a top-level wide receiver gets paid?
The worst thing that could happen would be for Jones to mismanage this situation. He has the option to place the franchise tag on Bryant for the next two seasons. Bryant is such an emotional guy that I think if Jones tagged him, he would be disappointed and hurt that the organization didn’t want him.
Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Mike Wallace all have contracts that guarantee at least $20 million. Bryant absolutely belongs in that group. Since 2012, Bryant is first in the NFL with 25 touchdowns, sixth in yardage (2,615) and seventh in receptions (185). Factor in that Bryant is only 25 years-old and still has several years of his prime left makes it vital to extend him for the foreseeable future.
Many will view Bryant wanting a new contract as a selfish and greedy move on his part given his personal history. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Dez has been patient and is playing out his contract. When the average NFL career lasts just 3-4 years, Bryant can’t be blamed for going after the big bucks to support himself and loved ones for the rest of their lives.
Players need to protect themselves from the unknown. If you don’t believe that, just ask Sean Lee. his NFL future just got more murky after tearing his ACL yesterday. Sure, Lee is destined to stay in Dallas with last year’s big extension, but with his health issues, who knows if he can ever really get back.
Jones must also think about signing tackle Tyron Smith long-term, but Dez will be the player who gets all the attention. Dez wants to stay and is willing to give a hometown discount. If Jones lets him walk, it would be the worst mistake of his career.