Dez Bryant is going to get paid. One way or another, whether it's the franchise tag or not, the wide receiver is getting the dollars he deserves.
But the Cowboys star has every right to feel disappointed in his franchise for the way they've handled his contract negotiations.
Earlier this week, Dez took to Twitter to reveal his frustrations with the way Stephan Jones, Cowboys vice president of player personnel, and the rest of his staff have dealt with Bryant's impending free agency.
The Cowboys have until March 2 to make a decision on Bryant, with the franchise tag for receivers expected to be somewhere around the $13m mark.
While that would mean Bryant would be one of the best paid receivers next year, the franchise tag is just for a single season. NFL players, considering the average career is just four years, are obviously keener to get tied down to longer-term deals.
Especially if, like Bryant, they deserve it.
But Stephen Jones admitted this week that the franchise tag is looking likely.
"Right now we're probably leaning that way," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said this week about tagging Bryant. "But that doesn't mean it won't change. We'll probably wait 'til the midnight hour to make that decision."
Dez will be a Cowboy next season, the franchise tag just buys the team a little more time to reach a deal.
But while the NFL may well be a #business, it's no way to treat a cornerstone player. The case to give Dez the money comes down to his on-the-field production versus his off-the-field concerns.
Last year he had 88 receptions, 1,320 yards and 16 receiving TDs. He was inches short of sending the Cowboys to the NFC Championship Game.
He was one of the top receivers, if not the top, in the league last season. And at just 26-years-old, with his best years ahead, he wants to be paid like it.
The Cowboys reportedly offered his agent 10 years at $114m with $20m guaranteed and $60m over the first six years.
That's Brandon Marshall money, but not Calvin Johnson - don't be fooled by the headline $114m figure.
Dez is closer to the latter than the former. The Detroit star leads the NFL with his $113m, seven year contract, $48m of which is guaranteed. That's Mega-dollars.
That first offer from Dallas to Dez seems competitive, but it's no wonder he turned it down and looked for another agent.
$20m in guarantees would mean just 17.5 per cent of his contract, clearly a hedge play by the Cowboys in case Bryant goes off the rails again. But that's an embarrassing offer, no other receiver in the top 50 has a smaller fraction of guaranteed money per Over The Cap.
Dez is on the Megatron path, although he's not there yet. But when you consider the other top receiver contracts in the league, it's no wonder Bryant is kicking up a fuss.
Because while most people get caught up with the headline $113m figure, the guaranteed money is actually the most important metric, along with the average per year.
There's a big gap between Johnson ($16m a year) and the rest (Harvin, Wallace, Bowe) on around $12m a year.
In the current top 10 WR contracts you've also got Percy Harvin on $12.8m a year, and then Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe (didn't catch a TD pass all season!!), Vincent Jackson, Marshall, Jordy Nelson, Andre Johnson and Greg Jennings all there too.
Dez, like Demaryius Thomas, has earned a fat new contract. He's better than everybody but Calvin, and he's closing fast on him too.
The Johnson deal is clearly the benchmark's for Dez's new camp - he signed with Roc Nation along with CAA agent Tom Condon last season after shelving contract talks.
There's a crop of receivers about to get paid who will soon (if they haven't already) enter the Johnson class - and Dez's deal could set the new benchmark.
Dez and Demaryius this offseason, and AJ Green and Julio Jones are off their rookie deals next year. Antonio Brown is outperforming his contract in Pittsburgh.
A deal that gives Dez parity with Johnson and puts him well above the peers he's outperforming (Harvin, etc) seems fair. With the cap expanding, $14m-16m a season seems about right.
Dez's off-the-field concerns are well documented, but it should be noted that all the negative headlines he generates now come on Sundays - the slanging matches with teammates, the petulant tantrums on the sidelines.
He more than makes up for it when Tony Romo gets him the ball, and it shows he's invested in winning, even if it's not everybody's cup of tea.
The Cowboys don't have much flexibility this year, and with Demarco Murray also a free agent, it's awkward timing for Stephan Jones and the front office.
Murray is a fantastic back, but he's replaceable. Last season was a breakout year because he was healthy and playing behind a fantastic line. The Cowboys should cut him loose, replace him at a fraction of the value and use the savings to give Dez his payday.
Because they risk playing a dangerous game, antagonising their young superstar just to string things out for one more year.
Dez is too important to the Cowboys for the team, especially with a quarterback change likely in the coming years.
The Cowboys hit the jackpot when they nabbed Dez towards the end of the first round.
Now it's time for Dez to cash in too.
What do you think Cowboys fans? What do you want the front office to do this offseason? Dez, Demarco, both, neither?
Have your say below...
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