Recent contract talk around Valley Ranch has been concerning the impending contract extensions of WR Dez Bryant (25) and LT Tyron Smith (23). It’s hard to argue about extending either one considering how young and talented they are. In fact, they have the potential to soon be the best at their positions and have not even approached their physical primes.
Resigning Bryant and Smith will not be cheap. Both are expected to command top-5 salaries at their positions. The average Top-5 annual salary for WRs is over $12M while the average Top-5 for OTs is over $11M. Cowboys fans should be prepared for numbers in this ballpark.
Whether preemptively extending their contracts before they’ve expired is a good deal or not remains to be seen. There are pros and cons to each strategy.
Wait to Offer Extensions
Some people prefer to make players play the final year of their deal before offering an extension. The thought is that the players are more motivated to perform since it’s a true contract year. Statistics actually back this up as players typically do perform better in the last year of a rookie contract compared to the first year after an extension.
Another benefit to waiting is if a player underperforms or has a catastrophic injury. The club would be able to reassess value before committing money long-term. They would even be able to let the player walk away completely without salary cap penalty (because the contract is expired and the player is a free agent).
There is risk of course since the player could explode and have a great season, thus driving up their market price. Not only could the player now be more expensive, but they could also depart in free agency if a deal is not struck or the franchise tag will not fit under the salary cap.
Proactively Extending Players
The option the Cowboys usually go with is to proactively sign their top players to extensions to avoid the risk explained earlier. This puts everyone’s mind at ease knowing they have their top players locked in for the next few years (for better or for worse).
The risk here is if a player regresses or is injured. Sean Lee is a good example. Lee continues to improve as a player year after year but has had problems staying healthy. Many objected to proactively signing him to an extension until he could prove he could be relied on for a full season. The Cowboys decided to deal with the injury risk and avoid the risk of losing him and proactively offered a contract extension. Lee responded by playing his best football and falling to injury once again. Was it the right move or wrong move? Tough to say. That’s probably a topic for long discussion all in itself.
The point is there is risk in either strategy so the Cowboys must weigh each one individually and decide what’s best. But with their contract demands already in the Top 5 at their respective positions, it’s hard to imagine the price rising too much higher if the Cowboys decide to wait.
At the end of the day, both of these guys will re-sign with Dallas eventually – it’s only a matter of time.
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