INDIANAPOLIS – Whatever contract negotiations are to come between Dez Bryant and the Cowboys, they aren't happening right now, according to team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
"Since Dez changed agents we haven't had timely or substantive negotiations," Jones said. "We thought we had something in the middle of the season, early part of the season. That didn't work out. That's not a criticism. It just didn't work out. So from the standpoint from where we are there, we'll just see."
Jones spoke about a variety of subjects Saturday during a media session at the NFL Combine – including some lengthy conversation about Bryant's pending contract situation. The topic has dominated Dallas headlines all week, with Cowboys executives mulling the option of using the franchise tag on the All-Pro receiver, while Bryant has in turn vented frustration about the topic on social media.
Those frustrations likely stem from a variety of topics, from the insinuation that Bryant might be designated as the Cowboys' franchise player, to the rumor that surfaced Friday that he might be involved in an incriminating video tape.
Jones was able to allay at least some of those concerns.
"Right now, as to our basic approach to all of the contracts that we're considering negotiating, off the field issues are not a consideration in any situation with any player as far as what we're doing with our contracts," he said.
If the lack of communication between the Cowboys and one of their top players sounds concerning, though, Jones cautioned against overreaction. Conversations have apparently been limited since Bryant switched representation in November, moving over to RocNation and Tom Condon in favor of Eugene Parker. Despite that, Jones said it's not uncommon in the world of contract negotiation.
"Contract negotiations are a funny thing. You shouldn't measure progress by the latest visit or the fact that things are silent," he said. "It takes two and when an agreement can be reached it can be done in a matter of hours and so you've got to be careful measuring any degree of interest any degree of urgency. You can't measure it like that."
It's also worth pointing out that, though he hasn't spoken with Bryant's representation, Jones said he has spoken with his Pro Bowl receiver during the week he's been in Indianapolis and said Bryant is "upbeat."
"There's no frustration," he said. "The facts are, we've been communicating with Dez because that happened during the season as well. Parts of it happened during the season. It hasn't created awkwardness in any way."
There is at least some kind of urgency in the sense that the Cowboys' deadline to use their franchise tag is March 2. Earlier this week, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said they were leaning toward franchising Bryant, which would net the receiver a one-year deal worth roughly $13 million.
Going back to November of 2014, Bryant has said before that he'd be "highly disappointed" to be franchised tagged, rather than signed to a long-term deal. For his part, Jerry Jones sounded like he agreed, as the franchise tag would set back his 2015 salary cap much more than a multi-year contract.
"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," he said. "But the franchise is there for a reason and situations like this are what everyone had in mind."