Dez Bryant Poised For Potential Holdout into Season
The Dallas Cowboys were arguably playing with fire during free agency when they let star running back DeMarco Murray flee to the divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles. They did so again when they handed stud wide receiver Dez Bryant the franchise tag, rather than letting him test the open market or signing him to a long-term deal.
Bryant had previously warned the Cowboys not to franchise him, but Dallas viewed the franchise tag as their best path to securing their prized receiver to a long-term deal.
Now that the Cowboys and Bryant are in this spot, Bryant is reportedly considering threatening a holdout that could leak into the 2015 NFL season. Per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, sources “familiar with the player’s negotiating strategy” suggest Bryant and the Cowboys aren’t close to a new deal and a holdout could be coming.
Per that same source, Bryant and the Dallas front office haven’t even engaged in serious long-term contract talks since before the 2014 NFL season. Sources suggest Bryant could “pull an Emmitt” and mirror legendary running back Emmitt Smith’s holdout strategy from the 1993 season. Smith sat out for the first two games that year and after his value was proven via an 0-2 start for the ‘Boys, the team buckled and paid him his money.
That may not be a path the Cowboys can afford to take. Dallas overcame an 0-1 start in 2014 to win the NFC East and make the playoffs, but an 0-2 start could be tough to break through. The more important issue is not having Bryant for any length of time, as the absence of one of the league’s top receiving threats could make the Cowboys a more vanilla offense.
Dallas already is facing the tough task of replacing Murray, and so far they only have a less than imposing stable of Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams and Joseph Randle to show for it. Even if that ends up working out for the offense, now they have to worry about possibly playing some important games without their top passing weapon.
Should Bryant sit out any regular season time, the Cowboys would suddenly have serious questions in both the running and passing game. Tony Romo would feel the extra pressure, while Bryant’s absence would also force Terrance Williams to step up into a much bigger role.
It’s possible the Cowboys have been prepared to call Bryant’s bluff all along. Bryant would still be subject to fines for sitting out any games and Dallas may feel confident he’ll ultimately shows up in play. However, whether or not Bryant does indeed hold out, another chief concern has to be any practice time or preseason games he sits out. Missing time would undoubtedly disrupt the offensive chemistry – specifically between Romo and Bryant. Holdout or not, if that happens, Dallas could enter 2015 with a lack of flow and continuity.
For a team that won a playoff game a year ago and seemed poised to make a Super Bowl run, the Cowboys have taken two huge steps backwards. Getting Bryant locked in to a long-term deal would take away one of those missteps. Until Dallas does that and these holdout rumors heat up, however, the Cowboys will be harder and harder to trust as a Super Bowl or even playoff contender for the 2015 NFL season.
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