Cowboys free-agent debate: Dez Bryant

With 20 players set to be restricted or unrestricted free agents, the Dallas Cowboys will have plenty of decisions to make on who to keep and who to let go.

Let's take a look at the free agents to be and how they could fit into the Cowboys' future:

Wide receiver Dez Bryant

Type: Unrestricted

What he did: What didn't he do? He led the Cowboys with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and set the team's season record with 16 touchdowns. (He also made a catch in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, but that's another story). It was Bryant's third straight 1,000-yard season and the third straight year he had 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns. Only Bob Hayes has more seasons with at least 10 touchdown catches (four) in team history than Bryant. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season but didn't play in the game because of a lingering groin injury.

What he could do: He is one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL. He is a mismatch in the red zone because of his ability to go after the high pass and his strength. He has some of the strongest hands in the NFL and his route running has improved greatly and should improve the more he plays. He needs to do a better job against press coverage and not give corners so much of his upper body to lock onto. When he was drafted he was quickly anointed the next great No. 88 in team history with Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin. It took some time but he has earned that reputation and if he remains he might turn out to be the best of the bunch.

What it should cost: This is where it gets tricky. The Cowboys are likely to put the franchise tag on Bryant, which should be roughly $13 million, if they are unable to find agreement on a long-term deal. That it hasn't happened yet tells you there is a divide in what Bryant wants and what the Cowboys want to give that goes beyond just the structure of the deal. It is quite possible the Cowboys could use the franchise tag on him in 2016 if they don't get a deal done. Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald average $16 million per season. Johnson was guaranteed $48.75 million in his deal. There is a gulf in the remaining receiver deals in guaranteed money and that has held back the talks. The Cowboys guaranteed Tyron Smith $40 million in his deal last summer, but that didn't do the trick for Bryant. The Cowboys appear more than comfortable to roll with the franchise tag at this point.

The series: Click here for more posts from this series.