The two also spoke briefly in the locker room after Saturday’s preseason game about the prospect of getting a deal done before the start of the regular season on Sept. 7. Bryant has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to discuss a new contract once the season begins.
"Gotta respect it," said Cowboys vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones. "He’s half of the deal. You’ve got to have him to have the deal. Obviously, we respect [the deadline]. He wants to concentrate on the season. If we don’t get it done before the season starts, we’ll get it done after the season, if that’s when he wants to do it. We’re not going to be worried about it one way or the other."
Bryant and the Cowboys have been discussing a long-term deal for several months, but have been unable to reach an agreement.
Bryant, who caught 93 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns, considers himself a top-5 NFL receiver and wants to be paid like one. Those players earn about $12 million per season. The Cowboys view him more as a top-10 receiver and would like to pay him in the $8-10 million range.
They have often compared him to DeSean Jackson, who signed a three-year, $24 million deal with Washington in the offseason.
The sources said Bryant and Jones had an amicable meeting Tuesday in which Jones reiterated to Bryant how much he wants him to be with the Cowboys long-term.
"We’re working hard," Stephen Jones said. "Oh, I’m optimistic that eventually we get something done. Obviously, we think the world of Dez, and that’s what we want and he wants that, so just got to work hard at it."
After the Cowboys signed left tackle Tyron Smith to an eight-year, $98 million contract extension during training camp, the NFLPA reportedly looked into the negotiations because the Cowboys circumvented Smith’s agent and persuaded Smith to agree to a deal that would keep him tied to the Cowboys until the 2023 season.
Right now, one source said the biggest impediment to getting a deal done is the amount of guaranteed money.
If the sides don’t reach an agreement, the Cowboys could put the franchise tag on him and pay Bryant $12.3 million next season.
-- Tim MacMahon contributed to this report