IRVING, Texas – Tagged.
The Cowboys have hinted all offseason that they would likely place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant if the two sides didn't come together before this March 2 deadline.
And so, just before Monday's deadline to give players the franchise tag, the Cowboys did exactly that, handing their star receiver the $12.8 million placeholder.
Whether or not Bryant will actually play the 2015 season under this designation remains to be seen as the Cowboys will have until July 15 to work out a new contract with Bryant. If not, the Cowboys won't
be allowed to restructure a deal with him until the end of the season. Of course, they always could issue another franchise tag to Bryant again.
That's what the Cowboys did with Anthony Spencer in 2012 and 2013, paying the then-outside linebacker $8.8 million and $10.63 million in consecutive years.
Of course, the tag (the combined average of the top five NFL players at that position) is much higher for receivers.
In fact, Bryant becomes the first receiver in franchise history and first offensive player since Flozell Adams in 2002 to get the tag. Adams was the first to get the tag from the Cowboys, who also used it on Ken Hamlin in 2008 before the consecutive years with Spencer.
Bryant is one of two franchised receivers this year along with Denver's Demaryius Thomas, who was selected 22nd overall, two spots ahead of Bryant, in the 2010 draft. Bryant and Thomas are the first two receivers to be franchised since 2012 when Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City), DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia) and Wes Welker (New England) were all tagged.
The goal remains to get a long-term deal in place, something owner/GM Jerry Jones reiterated two weeks ago in Indianapolis.
"I can tell you I'm not that excited about the franchise tag with Dez simply because I'd like to have our agreement and our business in place for a long time to come with Dez," Jones said. "But the franchise is there for a reason and situations like this are what everyone had in mind."
Jones said the Cowboys nearly struck a deal with Bryant midway through last season before he changed agents from Eugene Parker to RocNation and Tom Condon. Reportedly, Bryant's representatives met with both Jones and COO/director of player personnel Stephen Jones last week.