Don’t be shocked if the Cowboys EXTEND Dez Bryant’s contract

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys prepares to take on the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys prepares to take on the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The marriage between Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys is very much in question, yes,  but no one should be surprised if Friday’s meeting results in a contract EXTENSION.

It probably sounds absolutely absurd at this point. The man we’ve been actively tearing apart for the better part four months – the one who has been in a statistical decline for three seasons – the guy who dropped balls, rounded routes, and giftwrapped turnovers may actually sign an extension with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dez Bryant is not living up to the expectations of his contract. That’s the issue we’re dealing with. The solution is to either play better or to get paid less. He’s scheduled to make $12.5 million in 2018 and will count a whopping $16 million against the cap. If he’s cut he’ll count $8 million against the cap (either all at once or over the course of two seasons). It’s safe to say neither of these options are very attractive.

Eating dead money is never fun, especially when it’s avoidable. That’s why the Cowboys are expected to ask for a pay cut in Friday’s much anticipated, “Jerry and Dez Summit 2018”. It’s been said Dez would be open to dropping his pay a reasonable amount as long as the request was handled appropriately. But “how much” and “how appropriate” is anyone’s guess.

Dez Bryant is a proud man. From an optics perspective, he probably hates the idea of publicly accepting a reduction in pay. It admits guilt. But what about pleading “no contest”.

Pleading “no contest” and signing an extension at a reduced annual rate

As many of us speeders know, a “no contest” plea does not accept guilt, even though it essentially means as much. If Dez Bryant agreed to an extension that would average a lower annual salary, he would, for all intents and purposes, be taking a pay cut. This nolo contendere plea would say he’s not worth what he was being paid, but would allow him to save face in the process.

The contract would basically work like this:

Say you tack on two extra years to his remaining two years. You can drop the base salaries from 2018 and 2019 to peanuts and give him a brand new shiny bonus this season to supplement his income. This would allow him to earn just as much as he would have otherwise earned this season, and it would spread the cap hit into all four remaining seasons. It would look good on paper for Dez to save face, but would make Mr. Bryant expendable in 2020, costing the Cowboys only the prorated portion of that signing bonus should they decide to release him (which would be less than it would cost to cut him today).

Of course, there are a multitude of variations on this proposal so there’s no point spending too much time building a digestible solution for all. The point is there is an option that involves extending his contract, saving money, all without over-committing to him in the future.

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This idea isn’t unique to me but it’s been an almost completely ignored option to majority of the mainstream media. Jerry Jones likes Dez, just not at the cost he’s scheduled to make. All indications are Dez is attacking this offseason with fury and will be out to prove his doubters wrong in 2018 – whether that’s in Dallas or not.

Who is Dez?

Contrary to popular belief, Dez works hard in the offseason and in practice. He hasn’t lost as much speed as many like to say and he’s still creating separation based on’s Next Gen statistics (2.4 average yards of separation in ’18 which is the same as the great Julio Jones).

Dez’s issues are with effort. Effort running crisp routes and effort making plays on tough, potentially painful, balls. If the Cowboys are convinced he’s taking steps to correct these, they may be inclined to keep him around.

Cowboys Nation is understandably split on Dez Bryant. Some see him as an unappreciated asset who has been set up to fail from inadequate coaching and inaccurate passing.

And those people are probably right.

Others see him as a low-effort, unreliable distraction, who undermines the offense and can’t come to grips that he lost a step. Those people are also probably right.

Accepting that there isn’t a single cause, we can move forward and admit there isn’t a quick fix. Dez needs to run better routes (a discipline he’s finally working on as we speak). Dak Prescott needs to be more anticipatory with his passing (something that can’t happen unless he knows what quality of route is being run), and Scott Linehan needs to open up the route tree and send Dez on more diverse journeys (something Linehan can’t do until he pulls his own head out of his…)

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But there are more options on the table than simply cutting his salary or cutting him from the team. The Cowboys could extend Dez Bryant and save some money, and talent,  in the process.