Update: Dez Bryant has confirmed via Twitter that he won't re-join the Dallas Cowboys until he has a new contract.
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) July 13, 2015
With the deadline looming for franchise players to sign multi-year contracts, the possibility of Dez Bryant missing games in the 2015 NFL season is beginning to look more and more realistic. ESPN reports that the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver told team executive vice president Stephen Jones that he’s prepared to skip training camp, as well as regular season games, if he doesn’t get a new deal by Wednesday.
If the two sides can’t come to an agreement by Wednesday, Bryant’s only other option is to sign the tender, which would pay him $12.8 million next season. The wide out has no intentions of doing so, and the report states that he personally told Jones of his plan to miss time on the field.
Jones has denied that such a conversation took place, and Dallas is acting as if the threat of Bryant holding out is not very real. Bryant has made appearances at minicamp and participated in some OTAs. Tom Condon of CAA Sports, who is negotiating Bryant's contract, and Dallas have reportedly had one face-to-face meeting, though the two sides remain apart on a new contract.
Bryant is looking to be paid like a top receiver, and he’s performed like one over the past few years. He’s totaled at least 88 catches, 1,233 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons.
If Bryant extends his hold out into the regular season, it wouldn’t be the first time a top wide receiver has made that decision. After catching 68 passes for 1,167 yards in 2009, Vincent Jackson didn’t agree to re-join the San Diego Chargers until there were nine games left in the 2010 season. He never got his new contract, and made $240,058 for playing five games, forfeiting more than $3 million in potential salary.
While Bryant can’t be fined for missing time with the team, he won’t be earning the $752,000 game checks he would receive by signing the tender. Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul all have until Wednesday to sign their franchise tenders.
The NFL Players Association is currently looking into the possibility that Denver and Dallas colluded during contract negotiations with their respective No.1 receivers. The NFLPA believes the teams contacted each other about potential new deals, which would violate the collective bargaining agreement.
If Bryant does end up missing some games, Terrance Williams would become Tony Romo’s No.1 receiver. He posted 621 yards last season, following up a 736-yard rookie campaign. Tight end Jason Witten would likely see his targets increased, though his 703 receiving yards in 2014 were his lowest career total since he was a rookie in 2003.