I've had 48 hours to mull this over, and I still can't understand why Dez Bryant thinks he might sit out parts of the 2015 season.
If you've been keeping up, you no doubt read the stories on Friday that Bryant is considering sitting out regular season games if he isn't signed to a long-term deal this summer. That's important today, June 15, because we're exactly one month out from the all-important deadline to sign that deal.
As was noted last week, if the Cowboys and Bryant can't agree on a multi-year, mega-money contract by July 15, then he has to play out this season on his $12.8 million franchise tag. Or, as his camp has noted, he can opt not to play at all.
The problem for Bryant and Co. is that their strategizing just doesn't make much sense. This isn't 1993, when Emmitt Smith sat out for two games, giving the Cowboys the time they needed to learn just how valuable he was.
In the modern NFL, with Dez having been franchise tagged, there's not a whole lot the Cowboys can do. Even if they start 0-2, league rules prevent them from negotiating after July 15. It's certainly true that the Cowboys won't be as good of a team if he does in fact sit, and it's also true that he'll miss out on roughly $750,000 per week.
Unfortunately for Bryant, none of that will facilitate a new contract if an agreement isn't reached in the next month.
That's why I'm guessing Dez is going to be stuck under the franchise tag when the 2015 season kicks off – I simply don't see any leverage that's going to get him out from underneath it.
The Cowboys certainly can't be happy to hear that their All-Pro receiver is considering sitting out, but they also probably don't believe it.
Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones encapsulated it pretty well at the NFL's Annual Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz., back in March. Asked if he thought Dez might hold out, he confidently downplayed the possibility.
"I know how much he loves to play football," Jones 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."[embeddedad0]
That's an impressive list of reasons for why Dez will play. He's proven a few of them himself this spring, given how eager he's been to report to the team facility. He showed up in May to meet Byron Jones after the first round of the NFL draft, and he's been here for a handful of workouts and practices during the OTA sessions.
None of those sound like things that a player determined to hold out would do.
On the other side of the equation, I can think of plenty of reasons for the Cowboys to hold off on a new deal.
As has been well-covered, there's the looming issue of the wide receiver market, which is about to be overhauled with guys like Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and A.J. Green all nearing big-time pay days. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has said himself that it's hard to decipher how that market will develop.
The Cowboys have done a good job with budgeting for this problem. They can afford to keep Dez under the tag with this current salary cap, so there's no reason to rush to a deal simply because – that's how you run the risk of overpaying or crippling your cap.
In all honesty, Dallas could franchise Bryant in 2015 and 2016 and see how the chips fall, and they'd likely still be spending less money in the long run. Bryant, meanwhile, would have a very hard time turning up his nose at $25-30 million.
None of this is to say Dez doesn't deserve a new deal, mind you -- or that he won't get one. He's easily one of the top three receivers in football, if not the best one altogether. One way or another, he's going to be compensated for his efforts.
What I am saying is that I don't see much in the way of leverage on Bryant's side of this argument. The Cowboys are holding the cards, and it's not going to hurt them to play on their terms.