In the NFL, we often hear the phrase "pay that man" when one of the league's superstars, a player with consistent production and prime years ahead of him, is deserving of a new deal with a nice chunk of cash up front.
However, given the salary cap, the impact on the roster and the fact that every player in the league is replaceable to a degree, it's usually not that easy to just start throwing around money.
The Dallas Cowboys went through that drill earlier this offseason when they decided not to match the offer the Philadelphia Eagles handed to free-agent running back DeMarco Murray. It was a pretty steep price for someone playing a position in which he takes a beating, wears down and often fails to produce a return on the sizable investment.
For running backs with a massive number of carries, production doesn't begin to slide on a gradual downslope; it usually falls right off the cliff.
However, in the case of signing wide receiver Dez Bryant to a long-term contract, this decision should be an easy one for the Cowboys—a breakaway layup after placing the franchise tag on the 26-year old.
In this writer's humble opinion, Bryant is the best receiver in the game, a player who creates favorable matchups with speed, size, ball skills and ultra-rare body control at the point of attack. In short, Bryant is a straight beast on the tape who will always impact defensive game plans, especially inside of the 20-yard line.
Forget about making these negotiations complicated or letting them drag out even longer into training camp, where it will become a distraction. The last thing head coach Jason Garrett's club needs, especially after a very successful 2014 season, is to head into camp with one of its core players absent.
That creates negative attention and takes the focus away from the competition on the field, the true team-building aspect of camp and the prep for the regular season every pro needs in August.
Team owner Jerry Jones recently said he wants to have "long-term security" with Bryant, per USA Today's Lindsay H. Jones. Until an actual offer is on the table—one that pays the wide receiver true market value—it's just talk.
What type of money are we looking at with Bryant?
Joel Corry, a former NFL agent and current salary-cap expert for CBS Sports and the National Football Post, talked to me about multiple options for Bryant, including the idea of targeting the deal Mike Wallace signed with Miami in 2013. Corry suggested Bryant could use that deal (five years, $60 million, with $30 million guaranteed) in negotiations, with the numbers adjusted to fit today's cap.
"In 2013, the cap was $123 million," Corry said. "If you adjust that deal to a cap environment of today—$143 million and some change—that basically gets you to $14 million a year and $35 million in guarantees."
|Dez Bryant's Career Stats|
Fair numbers for a top-tier wide receiver? I think so, because this is still about the Cowboys winning football games and utilizing their talent to create positive game plans.
If we take a step back from the contract talk and look at this situation from the perspective of how Bryant impacts the Cowboys' offensive system, his role is vital to the success of quarterback Tony Romo, the run game and the matchups generated for tight end Jason Witten, receiver Terrance Williams and slot man Cole Beasley.
Yes, the Cowboys want to be balanced, run the ball and control the front with one of the best offensive lines in the game. However, Bryant is the guy on this team who most scares opposing defenses.
Bryant and his agent, Tom Condon, have threatened to carry this holdout into the regular season if he and the team can't agree upon a long-term contract:
I'm not sure I'm buying that, as I've never seen a player leave a paycheck on the table. It shouldn't even come close to getting to that point, though.
Think about it: With Romo entering the twilight of his career, Witten getting older and the Cowboys rolling the dice on a collection of ball-carriers to replace Murray, Bryant is the key—and the future—of Dallas' offense.
There's no need to be ridiculous here. It's time for Jerry Jones to open up his wallet and pay Dez. He's worth it.
Seven-year NFL veteran Matt Bowen is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.