Sometimes, when a player is cherished by his team and reasonable about his market value, contract extensions come easy.
And while many of us didn't always envision such a smooth negotiation process taking place between the Dallas Cowboys and Pro Bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant, based mainly on Bryant's somewhat tumultuous history, it's looking as though Bryant could sign one of those uncontroversial, easy extensions at some point between now and Dallas' Sept. 7 opener.
The clues are overwhelming because it doesn't feel as though anyone is playing games. In Dallas, that's rare. But according to Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Bryant on Monday suggested there was a "big chance" he'd have a new deal in Big D before the final year of his rookie contract officially started.
"I wouldn't refute that. I just wouldn't,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in response, per Williams. "I think that's the best way to respond to that. He's got a good sense of it. He obviously feels in the right circumstances he wants to get something done. We do, too. That can be good."
Negotiating parties haven't been this positive and courteous since Big Bird re-upped with Sesame Street in '98.
But this shouldn't surprise anybody. It really does seem as though the 25-year-old Bryant has matured greatly the last couple years. He hasn't just stayed out of trouble, he's taken on a leadership role on and off the field.
Here's receivers coach Derek Dooley on Bryant's leadership ability, per ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon:
There's a greater responsibility when you're the best player in the room. People generally look up to guys that have been to Pro Bowls and made these great plays. You can either be an example in a positive way or be an example in a negative way.
I'm really blessed to have a guy like Dez because he has an incredible work ethic on the field and an incredible desire to get better in his trade. All that does is spill down to the rest of the guys.
And head coach Jason Garrett, per another article from MacMahon:
Dez is a very influential guy. I think when young players come in and see how he practices, see his passion for the game, boy, that influences them. This is how you play at this level. And to be honest with you, guys who are his contemporaries, guy who are older than him, more veteran players see him and say, ‘Wow, this is how you’re supposed to do it.’
Dez is leading by how he’s practicing. He loves the game and practices really hard and plays really hard. I think that’s infectious. It’s a great example for his teammates.
It does appear the Cowboys can now trust him, and as ESPN.com's Todd Archer notes, the team also has "a long and productive working relationship" with Bryant's agent, Eugene Parker.
Everything is falling into place. And there really aren't any questions about Bryant on the field. How could there be? After all, dude has had more than 90 catches, 1,200 yards and 12-plus touchdowns in back-to-back seasons, and he only appears to be getting better at the age of 25.
|Where Dez Bryant ranks since the start of 2012|
|Yards after catch||995||3rd|
|Pro Football Reference|
There were also clues earlier this year that a deal would be coming sooner than later and without a lot of commotion. There continues to be little reason for Dallas to rush because with one year remaining on a contract that will pay Bryant only $.178 million in 2014, and with the franchise tag in their back pocket, the 'Boys know they can keep Dez through 2016 on year-to-year deals at a reasonable cost.
As a result of that unbalanced leverage, Parker and Bryant do appear to realize that a hometown discount has to be on the table, which might explain why it's all sunshine and lollipops right now.
"I'm loyal to the squad," Bryant said back in May, according to MacMahon. "I've always been. Me and my agent are going to talk about [a hometown discount]. We'll talk about it. You know, this is big. This is life-changing. Like I said, I've done everything asked of me, and we'll see what happens."
What we do know based on precedents is that Bryant is worth $13 million or more per season, and that's probably what he'll cost the Cowboys if they take the franchise tag route. The problem is that route gives them no rope to become creative with cap numbers and could agitate Bryant, so if Dallas is confident in Bryant on and off the field and a discount might even be in play, now's the time.
Plus, this organization should be as conscientious as any regarding potential distractions, especially when it pertains to diva wide receivers. And Bryant is going out of his way to avoid any possible distractions, which is why it just might get done now.
"I don't want to talk about it any more [once the season starts]," Bryant said Monday, per Williams. "Put it behind me. I love this game. Either way, I feel like I can’t be distracted once I’m on the football field."
That's fair, which is why you get the sense they'll hammer something out in the next 12 days.
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