IRVING, Texas — For Dez Bryant, the central issue of his ongoing contract negotiation is respect — but in the case of determining his value in the NFL landscape, respect is all about money.
"You can say that," Bryant said Wednesday.
After a quiet September and October, the chatter about Bryant’s expiring rookie contract is picking up as the Cowboys head into their Week 11 bye week. The Pro Bowl wide receiver changed agencies just before the team’s Nov. 2 loss to Arizona, and the status of his new deal has been a common subject of conversation in the weeks since.
"We’ve offered him some really nice contracts," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on 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."
Bryant agreed with Jones that a "nice agreement" looks like it’s on the horizon. In coming to that agreement, however, Bryant had one main tip for the Cowboys.
"It’s all about respect," he said. "I am a very loyal person, but just don’t test my loyalty."
For the most part, though, Bryant’s comments at his locker on Wednesday afternoon seemed to echo Jones’ assessment. He wants to be paid like one of the best receivers in football, and the process of compromising seems to be still unfolding.
"I know what I’m going to accept and what I’m not going to accept — I’ll leave it at that," Bryant said. "I’ve been here for five years, you know, and it’s not about the money. It’s not about none of that. But I just feel like a little respect should play a factor in that."
Fresh off a 158-yard, two-touchdown performance against Jacksonville, Bryant is on pace for roughly 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. If he reaches those marks, 2014 would be his third-straight season with more than 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns.
That on-field production is mitigated by concerns surrounding his off-the-field conduct — according to reports, at least. Before the Cowboys’ game in London on Sunday, Bryant was the subject of several stories stating the team was reluctant to offer the star receiver a long term contract because of a history of incidents away from the field.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones refuted that notion Tuesday night at AT&T Stadium.
"What we want to do is have an agreement for the rest of Dez’s career. So that’s what we want," he said. "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."
For his part, Bryant said he would like to retire with the Cowboys — though that’s not entirely up to him. He said he hasn’t recently talked with the Joneses about his contract situation, and he added that he doesn’t think his new representation has started those discussions.
"I just think it’s all business, and they have to do what they have to do and I have to do what I have to do," he said. "I’m pretty sure at the end of the day we’ll come to a real nice agreement."
If they don’t, the Cowboys could always opt to use the franchise tag on Bryant, securing his services for one year at the cost of roughly $12 million. It would be a decision Bryant has said he’d be "highly disappointed" to see, and it’s a route Stephen Jones said Tuesday he didn’t plan on taking.
With that in mind, the waiting game continues.
"We’ll have to see," Bryant said. "If it’s right, it’s right — sign my name on the dotted line. If it’s not, it’s not."