Cowboys: 'Wide gap' in contract talks with receiver Dez Bryant
It doesn't look like the ongoing contract talks involving Pro Bowl wideout Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys are bridging the gap between the two sides.
Bryant decided not to attend the start of the Cowboys' mandatory offseason minicamp Tuesday and the team's executive vice president Stephen Jones shed some light on the negotiations.
"I'm not a good speculator, but I will say this is the tough side of our game -- the side that the fans don't probably love to talk about," Jones said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday. "But there is a business side of it, and we're doing what we can do, our goal ultimately being to sign Dez to a long-term contract -- and I know Dez would like to have one. But this is an environment right now with a receiver market that's not exactly easy to get your hands around."
The Cowboys slapped their franchise tag on Bryant in March, which means he will earn $12.8 million next season. But this doesn't provide the long-term security Bryant is seeking.
Everybody voicing opinions..13 mil is cool but Where is my security? I'll wait ...5 years without complaining..So how am I selfish? #family1— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) June 17, 2015
Jones added that the two highest-paid wide receivers -- Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson -- got their contracts based on where they were selected in the draft.
“It's been well-documented that both Fitzgerald and Megatron both got their deals based on their rookie contracts because they were high draft picks and the franchise tag dictated that,” Jones continued. “But since then all receivers, the top ones, have pretty much been paid in the range of $11.5 million to $12.5 million, and there's a big disparity there.
“I don't think anyone quite knows what that market is, and that makes it difficult. I think once we figure out what that is, then there's a way for us to get something done with Dez. But until that happens, it's what teams think versus what players and their representatives think. There's a wide gap right now.”
Bryant caught 89 passes for 1,350 yards and an NFL-high 16 touchdowns last season, the end of his rookie deal that paid him about $11.8 million over five years. He has had at least 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in three consecutive seasons.
One of his agents, Tom Condon, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Bryant has told him that he is willing to sit out games. Condon said there have been no new talks lately with the Cowboys about a deal.
Bryant told NFL Network last week that the threat was "no rumor, it's legit."
If Bryant skipped any games with the $12.8 million franchise number, he would forfeit more than $750,000 per game.
“At the end of the day it's a business, and when the time comes and there's something that we can do that makes sense for both sides, I know that'll happen -- because they're motivated to do it, we're motivated to do it," Jones said. "But right now there's just too big a divide.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.