Dez Bryant: 'Don't test my loyalty'

IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant says he would prefer to retire as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, but feeling respected by the franchise he plays for is a higher priority for the Pro Bowl receiver.

With Bryant in the final season of his rookie contract, that respect is measured in the money being offered to him during slow negotiations for a new deal.

"It's all about respect. It's all about respect," Bryant said Wednesday. "I am a very loyal person, but just don't test my loyalty."

Bryant, who recently changed agents from Eugene Parker to Jay Z's Roc Nation and Creative Artists Agency's Tom Condon, thinks that he deserves to be one of the three highest-paid receivers in the NFL.

Bryant hoped to get an extension signed before the season started, but the sides never got close to an agreement. A source told ESPNDallas.com that the Cowboys' best offer was a 10-year deal that averaged less than $12 million per year and included only $20 million in guaranteed money.

"We've offered him some really nice contracts," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday night. "We also have to respect his views on where it is. My take on those things is that they ultimately find a way."

Four receivers -- Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, the Jets' Percy Harvin and Miami's Mike Wallace -- have contracts with average annual values of $12 million or more. Six receivers -- Johnson, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson, Houston's Andre Johnson and Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe -- have at least $20 million guaranteed in their contracts, all of which are significantly shorter than 10 years.

"I just know what I'm going to accept, and I know what I'm not going to accept," said Bryant, whose rookie deal was for $11.8 million over five years. "I've been here for five years. You know, it's not about the money. It's not about none of that. I just feel like a little respect should play a factor in that.

"I didn't make it a big deal my rookie year, my first year about getting to camp. I remember when people thought I was going to hold out and I didn't. I just wanted to get in and show that I'm worthy of being in the NFL and I can be a dominant player."

Bryant has done that, establishing himself as an elite receiver over the past few years. Since the start of the 2012 season, Bryant ranks first in the NFL in touchdown catches (33), fourth in receiving yards (3,408) and fifth in receptions (241).

Bryant cut off negotiations at the beginning of the regular season, saying he wanted to focus solely on football during the season. After changing agents, he said recently that he is willing to negotiate during the season, particularly with the Cowboys on bye this week.

However, Bryant said he has not had any recent discussions about his contractual situation with Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones. Bryant said he does not believe his representatives have had any recent contract talks with the Cowboys, either.

Bryant slipped to the 24th overall pick in the 2010 draft because of character concerns and had some off-the-field missteps early in his career. But Bryant and Jerry Jones both denied that off-field issues are a factor in the contract negotiations.

"What we want to do is have an agreement for the rest of Dez's career," Jerry Jones said Tuesday night. "So that's what we want. To me that says a lot about the concern about off-the-field concern if we want him on the Dallas Cowboys for the rest of his career.

"There is more to consider than just how good a player [Bryant is]. There's more to consider than performance. He represents the star. We want him to be proud of that. He can be. I'm real impressed with how he's evolved over the last several years, or we wouldn't be in serious contract negotiations with him. So I think all of that is where it really is, and I do look for us to get something done with Dez."

Jones described himself as proud "like a daddy" of Bryant's development on and off the field. He added that concerns about the salary cap -- with key Cowboys such as running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Rolando McClain also in contract years -- are the primary factor in the slow nature of the negotiations with Bryant.

Asked about his relationship with the front office, Bryant said it's "outstanding," but acknowledged being disappointed that it no longer feels like a "family atmosphere."

"I just think it's all business," Bryant said. "They have to do what they have to do. I have to do what I have to do. And I'm pretty sure at the end of the day, we'll come to a nice agreement."