IRVING, Texas – To this point in the offseason, the conversations about Dez Bryant's contract negotiations have come largely from the Cowboys – but Bryant did his best to change that fact on Friday.
In a report from NFL.com reporter Michael Silver, Bryant said there's a legitimate reason to believe he'll sit out of regular season games this year if he hasn't signed a new contract by July 15.
A report from ESPN earlier on Friday indicated that Bryant was considering missing the season opener if he hasn't' signed a new deal, and the All-Pro receiver clarified that himself Friday evening.
The July 15 deadline for a new contract is an important one for the Cowboys' interests. That is the final day Bryant can ink a new contract, otherwise he must go through the 2015 season under the one-year, $12.8 million contract stipulated by the franchise tag.
The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Bryant back in February, but he has yet to sign his franchise tender – which technically means he isn't under contract with the club. As contract negotiations have carried on, Bryant has missed the Cowboys' offseason conditioning program and their OTA sessions.
Since Bryant isn't technically under contract, he's also not required to attend next week's mandatory minicamp – and it seems unlikely he will.
Bryant's comments come just 10 days after Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he would like to sign his star wide out to a new deal, but he wasn't feeling pressured to do so.
"Would we like to get a long-term deal on him? Of course we would. We'll work hard to do that, and I'm sure we'll make a push at some point and see if we can make it work," Jones said. "If not, then hopefully he'll understand that it's difficult to make a deal at this point, and he'll come on in and get ready to play."
It seems logical that Bryant's hints at sitting out are aimed at securing that "push" for a new deal. The deadline is still roughly five weeks away, so the two sides have plenty of time to hash out their differences.
That said, Bryant potentially stands to lose a lot of money if he does in fact sit out. Under the franchise tag, he can expect to make roughly $752,941 per week during the 2015 season. For comparison, his base salary for the 2014 season was just $1.78 million.
Way back in March, at the NFL's Annual Meetings, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he wasn't concerned about Bryant potentially holding out for that very reason.
"I know how much he loves to play football," he said. "I know how much he loves his teammates, I know how much he loves his team and I know how much money he's getting. With all of that, you play."
Bryant hasn't done much to dispel that line of thinking this spring. He has shown up to the Cowboys' facility several times this offseason – during the NFL draft and during OTAs – despite his contract dispute.
It remains to be seen what comes of this latest development, but it will undoubtedly fuel the conversation over the remaining five weeks before the deadline.