IRVING, Texas– The Cowboys are still motivated to sign Dez Bryant to a long-term extension, but with one month left to negotiate until the July 15 deadline there's a "wide gap" in the current receiver market that has yet to be bridged, team executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio.
"I'm not a good speculator, but I will say this is the tough side of our game – the side that the fans don't probably love to talk about," Jones said. "But there is a business side of it, and we're doing what we can do, our goal ultimately being to sign Dez to a long-term contract – and I know Dez would like to have one. But this is an environment right now with a receiver market that's not exactly easy to get your hands around."
Jones is referring to the current gap between the NFL's two highest-paid receivers, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Detroit's Calvin Johnson – both of whom have deals in the $15-16 million per year range – and the rest of the league.
"It's been well-documented that both Fitzgerald and Megatron both got their deals based on their rookie contracts because they were high draft picks and the franchise tag dictated that," Jones said. "But since then all receivers, the top ones, have pretty much been paid in the $11.5-12.5 million range, and there's a big disparity there.
"I don't think anyone quite knows what that market is, and that makes it difficult. I think once we figure out what that is, then there's a way for us to get something done with Dez. But until that happens, it's what teams think versus what players and their representatives think. There's a wide gap right now."
The Denver Broncos are in a similar situation with fellow All-Pro receiver Demaryius Thomas who, like Bryant, has yet to sign his franchise tag tender or attend team offseason workouts.
Last Friday, Bryant confirmed to NFL Network an ESPN report that he might consider sitting out the regular-season opener if no deal is struck by July 15, the deadline to negotiate a long-term contract before the 2015 season. In a Sirius XM NFL Radio interview Tuesday, Bryant's agent, Tom Condon, said his client has indicated that stance to him.
However, a Week 1 holdout would cost Bryant approximately $752,941, or 1/17th of the $12.8 million franchise tag salary.
Jones said there's "no acrimony" between the two sides – just a difficult business situation that he believes will eventually be resolved.
"At the end of the day it's a business, and when the time comes and there's something that we can do that makes sense for both sides, I know that'll happen – because they're motivated to do it, we're motivated to do it," he said. "But right now there's just too big a divide."