Dez Bryant's contract not an issue -- for now

IRVING, Texas -- Jason Garrett said exactly what you expected him to say when asked about the possibility of Dez Bryant skipping the first game of the regular season.

He babbled about the business of football, praised Bryant's work ethic and essentially blamed the receiver's agents for spreading rumors.

"That's being floated by other people. We're not really focused on that," Garrett said. "Dez is getting ready to come to work. He's going to work hard every day, whether he's in the building or outside the building.

"Dez loves football. He's got a great passion for the game. He's got a great passion for our team. He'll take care of his business. We'll take care of our business, and hopefully all that stuff will be worked out sooner rather than later."

Good luck with all of that.

Bryant, who skipped the first day of the offseason's only mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, has 29 days to work out a long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Then he's either going to play for the franchise tag of $12.8 million or sit at home.

The Cowboys have all of the leverage.

Now, Bryant can try to convince himself that he has leverage. Or, maybe his agent or the good folks at Roc Nation have persuaded him that they can find him a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that his former agent Eugene Parker couldn't.


The only way Bryant is getting a multiyear contract is if he signs a team-friendly deal at less than market value. Thus far, Bryant has shown no indication he wants to do that, which is his right.

At least the rhetoric is flying now. Tom Condon, one of the NFL's most powerful agents, reiterated Tuesday morning during an interview on Sirius XM radio that Bryant could skip the season opener or even more games. He contends the Cowboys haven't made a new offer in forever.

A few hours later, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said during an interview on Sirius XM that the gulf between the sides is too large to bridge right now because huge contracts for Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald have skewed the market.

"This is an environment, especially with [the wide receiver] market, that it's not easy to get your hands around," Jones said. "The top wide receivers have been paid in the $11 million to $12 million range and that makes it difficult.

"Once we figure it out, there's a way for us to get it done with Dez. Until that happens, what teams think versus what the players and their representatives think, there's a wide gap right now."

No one in the Cowboys' front office who matters in this situation actually believes Bryant will skip the first regular-season game.

Heck, he has made at least one impromptu appearance at an offseason training activity because he loves the game so much. That said, Bryant is an emotional person, and you never know if he's going to be so frustrated that he decides to skip a week or two of training camp.

While the Cowboys haven't put a contingency plan in place just yet, they have started discussing life without Bryant in terms of which formations they would use more if Bryant wasn't around and which ones they would use less.

As my dad often says, "You either deal with reality or it will deal with you."

Bryant, among the league's most dynamic receivers, has the support of his teammates, which makes sense. Players always like to see another player get paid what he's worth, especially when it's a guy who has dominated the league.

In five seasons, Bryant has 56 touchdowns. The only receivers with more during their first five years are Jerry Rice, who is in the Hall of Fame, and Randy Moss, who will soon own his own gold jacket.

Frankly, Bryant should be one of the game's highest-paid receivers.

"It's a job. And at the end of the day, he's got a family and he's got to do what's best for him," said teammate Orlando Scandrick, who recently had his own contract restructured.

"If you respect him as a man and as a teammate, you've got to support your teammate through whatever he goes through. I talk to Dez periodically, and I support him through whatever he's going through."

Bryant must reach a long-term agreement by July 15, or he will be locked into the franchise tag salary for the season. Typically, the Cowboys prefer to negotiate with a deadline looming, because it makes each party focus on the deal instead of the rhetoric.

This time it won't.

The Cowboys aren't giving in, and they have no incentive to offer Bryant the deal he craves. For now, Garrett can ignore the implications; they become real if Bryant isn't there on the first day of training camp.