By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Paired with running back DeMarco Murray as Dallas’ two most-important players headed for free agency, Bryant is priority No. 1. But the wide receiver and team don’t appear to be anywhere near common ground on a contract, so much so that the Cowboys are well-prepared to use the franchise tag to keep him.
It’s something that Bryant does not desire. On Saturday, we learned it is also not a move owner and general manager Jerry Jones wants to make.
The two sides have known this time was coming for quite a while, and were working toward a long-term extension when Bryant’s decision to switch agents — from Eugene Parker to Roc Nation Sports and Tom Condon — halted negotiations in the middle of last season.
Now, Dallas will likely be forced to use the tag, which would secure Bryant for only the 2015 season at a sizable salary cap figure of $12.8 million, per NFL Media’s Albert Breer. It takes away the ability to backload his contract in order to free up more immediate space to re-sign Murray, whose future in Dallas is in question.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that should Bryant get tagged, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t show his face around the Cowboys’ facility until he is contractually forced to. Jones isn’t too worried about the gobs of money Bryant would receive upsetting the receiver, though. In fact, he’s more concerned with letting the general public know that the tag doesn’t work in the best interest of either side.
“I’ve never seen anybody just pout to the extent that they wouldn’t do it over this kind of money,” Jones said. “That usually is not realistic. It’s just too much money.”
Both sides want a deal that runs well past 2015, but it’s evident that it probably won’t get done before the March 2 deadline to place the tag on Bryant. Jones also said don’t rule out Bryant and the team suddenly coming to an agreement in the 11th hour, either.