At least one local team knows how to reel in a "big fish." The Dallas Cowboys rescued Dez Bryant from his Twitter angst and signed him to a five-year contract worth $70 million Wednesday. That $45 million of it was guaranteed was a huge win for the star wide receiver and his new team of agents.
I don’t think Bryant’s threats nor a looming "collusion" allegation by the players’ union had much to do with this agreement. Jerry Jones felt obligated to take care of his most dynamic player. And the two sides simply needed an actual deadline in order to spur meaningful negotiations.
"We know Dez well," Jones said in a conference call Wednesday. "And as well as we know him, you saw the kind of commitment we made. That says everything about what we think of him."
"He’s made tremendous strides since he came out of college, relative to his complete maturation. He’s certainly got room to improve; he’d be the first to tell you. But it’s important for the Cowboys that we have Dez Bryant’s talents on the field with all of his teammates."
I don’t think Jerry took Bryant’s threats not to play all that seriously, but he hated the thought of having a disgruntled player on his hands. With the departure of running back DeMarco Murray, Bryant is unquestionably Tony Romo’s most important weapon. He is also the team’s emotional leader. The two sides needed to find common ground.
It seemed funny that Bryant and Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas signed for virtually the same money. But the NFLPA won’t file collusion charges since both players reached lucrative long-term contracts. Jones denied colluding with the Broncos in any way Wednesday. (I’d love to see the two teams hold a joint press conference to announce their signings).
The Cowboys can now focus on building upon last season’s 12-4 record. Head coach Jason Garrett won’t have to answer daily questions about Bryant’s status. And all that guaranteed money should wash away the frustration Bryant had based on reports the Cowboys were still worried about him off-the-field.
Jones wanted to drive the point home about Bryant’s maturation. I do think it’s likely the Cowboys protected themselves in some ways, but that wasn’t a sticking point in the end. Bryant is now being compensated like one of the top receivers in the game. He seemed obsessed with Calvin Johnson’s standing in the league. Now, he’s on equal footing from a financial standpoint.
I don’t think anyone really lost in this negotiation. I’ve heard it said the Cowboys caved, but it’s more likely that both sides moved significantly. They just needed a hard deadline to create momentum.
There’s a part of Jerry that wanted to keep Bryant playing for a contract this season. But the positives in that approach were outweighed by the negatives. You don’t want your most talented and passionate player feeling disrespected. Jerry was sympathetic to Bryant’s feelings on that front.
That’s no longer the case. Bryant is being compensated like the superstar that he is.
He’ll have to search for another chip on his shoulder. And I bet he finds one.