Wide receiver Dez Bryant has signed a new, long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys after being given the franchise tag at the start of free agency. The deal brings an end to a prolonged negotiation that included threats of a holdout which could have extended deep into the regular season.
Continue for updates.
Cowboys Reportedly Have Agreement in Place
Wednesday, July 15
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Bryant and the Cowboys have a five-year, $70 million contract agreement in place. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported $45 million will be guaranteed in the deal. Pro Football Talk reported Bryant will earn a $20 million signing bonus as part of that guaranteed money, leaving $3 million in guarantees for the 2015 season, and another $22 million guaranteed in March 2016.
Bleacher Report's Jason Cole added that the Cowboys were hoping to get a clause in a new deal that would allow them to void Bryant's deal in the event that the wideout gets in trouble:
On July 14, Rapoport reported Bryant was asking for more money than Calvin Johnson, and while one source said the sides had "a long way to go," the Cowboys' offer averaging over $12.8 million per year is far superior to the initial deal they offered, which averaged $10 million a year.
Bryant Threatened to Sit Out Regular-Season Games in Contract Dispute
Tuesday, July 14
Rapoport reported he has not talked to anyone who believes Bryant's threat to sit out any regular-season games is legitimate, but Rand Getlin of NFL Network says sources close to the Cowboys star insists he will if he doesn't get a deal.
On July 13, Ed Werder of ESPN passed along news that Bryant won't attend training camp without a deal, reporting the star wide receiver called executive vice president Stephen Jones personally to inform him of his decision. Werder added Bryant would also miss real games without a long-term deal.
However, Jones told Werder Bryant made no such threat, while the player himself confirmed he intends to hold out without a new contract:
On July 14, Florio explained why Bryant would be willing to miss regular-season games, noting that even if he failed to play for the Cowboys in 2015, the collective bargaining agreement states the wideout would still be eligible for a 20 percent raise over the franchise-tag price next season.
Despite Bryant's stance, Jerry Jones said back on June 17 he expects Bryant to "lead the Cowboys charge" in Week 1 against the Giants regardless of his contract status, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.
Jones said he was "sympathetic" to Bryant, according to Mike Fisher of Fox Sports: "I would like nothing more than to have long-term security with Dez."
Bryant took to Twitter to defend his decision to hold out:
"With my conversations with him, he is willing to miss regular-season games," Bryant's agent Tom Condon told Sirius XM NFL Radio on June 16.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported June 12 that Bryant is considering skipping the Cowboys' Week 1 game against the New York Giants if he doesn't get a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline to sign a franchise-tagged player.
NFLPA Reviewing Possible Collusion Claim
Friday, July 10
Schefter reported the NFLPA is reviewing information that could lead to a collusion claim over the Cowboys and Bryant's negotiations:
Bryant, Cowboys Reportedly Optimistic Over Negotiations
Monday, July 6
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports passed along what he was hearing regarding a potential time line for a resolution to negotiations, stating talks will continue to evolve and "possibly conclude by midweek."
On July 4, Fisher reported the Cowboys and Bryant are optimistic about getting a deal done, noting the two sides are comfortable enough to not negotiate over the holiday weekend because of a shared willingness to have a positive impact on the Cowboys for life. He also said while the structure of the potential seven-year, $100 million deal is unknown, Jones wants to make a "positive mark" on the contract.
The news comes on the heels of a June 27 report from Archer, who passed along word of the meeting between Condon and the team—the first in "nearly four months."
On June 25, Cole reported the star wide receiver has "significant financial issues," which gives the team leverage as Bryant continues to hold out:
Despite Bryant's desire for a new contract, a June 10 report from Ross Jones of Fox Sports provided comments from an agent who said teams will "likely" make stars like Bryant and the Denver Broncos' Demaryius Thomas play on a franchise deal and that it's "possible" they can get tagged next season.
Playing under a fully guaranteed deal for one season does hamper the Cowboys' salary cap in 2015 but also gives them more flexibility over the next few years without having a huge cap number for a wide receiver on the books.
Bryant at Stadium, Not Attending OTAs
Thursday, June 18
Fisher reported Bryant was at AT&T Stadium on Thursday, but that the wide receiver was not there to participate in the team's minicamp. However, he did speak with Jones, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News.
Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram provided Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett's take, saying "it's great" Bryant was in attendance. Garrett said he had been talking with the wide receiver, and that Bryant knew the importance of being present for the team's final message of minicamp, per David Moore of the Dallas Morning News.
Bryant has emerged as one of the NFL's best wideouts after leading the league in receiving touchdowns last year (16) and being named first-team All-Pro.
The Cowboys need Bryant to be happy and on the field if they want to make another playoff run in 2015. He would be sacrificing money to skip regular-season games, if that's the route he wants to take.