One candidate is New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty. If he doesn't reach a deal with the club, he could be given the tag at a price of close to $9.5 million. McCourty earned roughly $10 million on his rookie contract, so the one-year tag would almost match what he made in his first five seasons.
"To me, that's no reason to stress," McCourty said on Wednesday. "I love it here. The franchise tag is player-friendly now, it's a good number."
Bryant earned about $11.8 million, so the one-year tag worth $13 million would be more than what he earned in his first five seasons. The only tags higher belong to quarterbacks and defensive ends.
"I've never seen anybody just pout to the extent that they wouldn't do it over this kind of money," Jones said from the scouting combine. "That usually is not realistic. It's just too much money. And consequently it's not set up or packaged the way that parties might want -- and I want to emphasize again -- it's not really set up in our best interest at all. There's a much better way for our future and our cap this year if we didn't franchise, but this is here when you don't have your meeting of the minds about how you want to structure something long term. And so if anything it's in the right situation, it's a placeholder for addressing it as you move through the future."
But making a player-to-player comparison is not the best approach. McCourty plays a position that is not as valued as Bryant.
Safeties don't get paid the same as receivers. McCourty might not mean to the Patriots what Bryant means to the Cowboys.
While McCourty can look at the $9.5 million tag as a sign of the team's belief in him, other players, perhaps like Bryant, can look at the tag as a negative.
A player shouldn't thumb his nose at $13 million, but if he has a chance to come close to potentially tripling that figure in guaranteed money in a long-term deal, the angst can be understandable to a degree.