FRISCO, Texas – With a month before training camp and less than three weeks until the 2015 deadline for negotiating a long-term contract with the Cowboys, Dez Bryant was back among teammates again Saturday as a left fielder in Dirk Nowitzki's 2015 Celebrity Heroes Baseball Game benefiting the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation.
Other Cowboys who participated in the game included Cole Beasley, Ron Leary, Dan Bailey, Kyle Wilber and Tyron Smith, who took MVP honors.
All eyes were on Bryant, though, given the looming July 15 deadline for negotiating a new long-term agreement with the Cowboys and reports that both sides resumed contract talks during the week.[embeddedad0]
If no deal is struck by July 15, Bryant must play the 2015 season on the one-year, $12.8 million franchise tag. As the Cowboys' offseason workouts wrapped up in mid-June -- all voluntary for Bryant without signing his franchise-tag tender -- Bryant's camp indicated he might be willing to skip regular-season games if the deadline passes without a new contract. Days later, Bryant visited the team's final minicamp practice as a spectator and had a friendly discussion with team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
One hurdle in the contract negotiations is the current financial gap between the two highest-paid receivers, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald, and the rest of the league's top receivers. Denver's Demaryius Thomas, Atlanta's Julio Jones and Cincinnati's A.J. Green are also looking for long-term deals at some point, but no one has reset the market for the position yet.
In 2014 Bryant made his second All-Pro team with a single-season club-record 16 touchdown catches and over 1,000 receiving yards (1,320) for the third time in his five-year career.