How to solve a problem like Dez Bryant? That is the question the Dallas Cowboys front office have been pondering for several months now as they bid to find a way to keep both the star receiver, and running back DeMarco Murray, on the roster in 2015.
Well, according to NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, with both players worthy of huge new contracts this summer a franchise tag being placed on Dez Bryant is now "inevitable."
The tag is expected, not only because it frees up money to offer to Murray, but because it gives the Cowboys extra time to continue discussions over a longer-term deal while alleviating lingering concerns about Bryant's temperamental nature.
"I'd be pretty surprised at this point if they got something long term down with Dez anytime soon," explained La Canfora during an appearance on radio station, 105.3 The Fan.
"There are some off-field issues. There are some concerns in that regard...They've been talking for a long time, and it's gotten nowhere."
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Bryant's on-field quality marks him out as a bonafide top-five receiver in the NFL right now. Last season he racked up a league high 16 receiving touchdowns as well as his third straight year of 1,200 yards or higher.
Question marks over his temperament though make him a risk to keep around, with previous reports noting how the Cowboys feared handing Bryant a big contract could "blow up in their face" down the road.
La Canfora laid out the reality of the situation with one simple statement.
"If they (the Dallas Cowboys) were willing to make the kind of commit that top-five wide receivers in the league get, then this would be done (by now)."
The franchise tag would see Dez Bryant earn around $12.7 million for the 2015 season. With many expecting the WR to command around $15 million as a free agent signing this $2.3 million saving would, in the short term, afford Dallas extra leeway in their negotiations with DeMarco Murray.
With NFL teams able to franchise tag players from February 16th it remains to be seen whether the Cowboys do go down that route with Bryant but - with lingering fears around the player, and money worries elsewhere - it makes the most sense.
Whether Dez Bryant takes offense at being put on the back burner for another season is though a while other question.
What do you think Cowboys fans? Is the franchise tag the way to go, or do Dallas risk upsetting their star and losing a chance of a long term deal? Let us know in the comments section below...