Dallas Cowboys: Dwayne Bowe

Jimmy Graham deal Dez Bryant's baseline?

July, 15, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Jimmy Graham was unable to declare himself a wide receiver in an arbitration case, but the New Orleans Saints tight end did fairly well with his reported four-year, $40 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed.

As the Dallas Cowboys and Dez Bryant look for ways to come to an agreement on a long-term deal so they can avoid any franchise-tag hassle next offseason, can Graham’s deal be something of a barometer for Bryant?

Graham
Bryant
Bryant
Graham argued he was a receiver because he lined up mostly off the line. It was an argument that was eventually denied by an arbiter, but there is some truth to what he was saying. Graham is not a tight end in the way Jason Witten is a tight end. But that is his position. Bryant will never be asked to put his hand on the ground to block somebody the way Graham is asked to do at least part of the time for the Saints.

But I digress. Let’s just look at the statistical comparisons of Bryant and Graham. Both players were selected in the 2010 draft. Bryant was a first-round pick, so he has an extra year on his rookie deal. Graham was a third-round pick.

In the past three seasons their numbers are fairly similar.

Bryant: 248 catches, 3,543 yards, 34 touchdowns.
Graham: 270 catches, 3,507 yards, 36 touchdowns.

Any discussions between the Cowboys and Bryant’s agent, Eugene Parker, have been kept under wraps for the most part. Most of the figures thrown around have been by the media. There are seven wide receivers with an average annual value of at least $10 million: Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson.

Marshall, Johnson, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Bowe and Jackson have at least $20 million in guaranteed money in their deals, as does Andre Johnson, who is threatening a holdout from the Houston Texans' training camp.

Graham’s contract puts him in line with receivers if not with the top-paid guys like Johnson ($16.2 million), Fitzgerald ($16.1 million). Harvin ($12.9 million) and Wallace ($12 million) who cashed in during free agency. Bowe averages $11.2 million. The Washington Redskins signed DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $24 million deal that included $16 million guaranteed in the offseason.

So where does Bryant fit in? Should he get Graham’s $10 million average or play out the season and possibly get tagged (that was $12.3 million in 2014)?

There is some middle ground in which both sides can compromise, but Graham's deal could help define just where that ground is, even if he is a tight end (wink, wink).
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have held preliminary discussions about a new contract for wide receiver Dez Bryant. The team does a good job of finalizing new contracts prior to the start of the season with several of their players.

Bryant
Bryant
But over the past two seasons, the Cowboys franchised defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Spencer after there was a failure to reach a long-term deal.

The Cowboys might have a similar situation with Bryant and could franchise him. The franchise tag for wide receivers in 2014 was $12.3 million.

"We have to see," Bryant said Monday when asked about getting franchised. "I know you’re going to hate this answer, but me and my agent (Eugene Parker) have to sit down and talk about that kind of stuff, and the rest of it should really take care of itself."

Bryant isn't thinking about his contract during the organized team activities, which entered the second week on Monday. Bryant's agent has a solid relationship with Cowboys' officials regarding new contracts for players.

Team officials don't seemed worried about getting a deal done.

"The thing about it is when it comes to football, I let that kind of stuff take care of itself," Bryant said. "I love this game and I always have. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, that stuff will handle itself."

What to pay Bryant is an interesting topic. Calvin Johnson leads wide receivers with an average salary of $16.2 million, followed by Larry Fitzgerald's $16.1 million. Percy Harvin ($12.9 million), Mike Wallace ($12 million) and Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million) are other top receivers with huge average salaries.

"Truthfully, to be honest, I’m not just talking, I really do let that stuff take care of itself, because I care about this game," Bryant said. "I’m not going to be out here, sitting out and doing all that crazy stuff. I’m just going to play football. If it’s deserved, it will come.

"You know, if that was to happen (a deal done before the season), that would be great. I’m still going to go out there and perform at a high level, because that’s how I work. I’m going to let it take care of itself."


We have talked a lot on here about the contract situation of New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who wants to get paid based on his No. 1 wide receiver production of the past two seasons, while his team wants to pay him as the top slot receiver in the league. We don't know how that situation will ultimately resolve itself, but once it does, it could have a ripple effect throughout the league for other wide receivers looking for contracts.

Bryant
Cruz
To that end, Calvin Watkins examines the possible impact Cruz's deal could have on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, whose contract expires after 2014 and is coming off a year in which he established himself as one of the most dangerous all-around wide receivers in the league:
The Cowboys need to be cautious what they pay Bryant because of his questionable decisions off the field -- which, in fairness, don't seem to be an issue anymore -- and what the top receivers make.

Larry Fitzgerald ($16.1 million), Calvin Johnson ($15.6 million), Andre Johnson ($14.4 million), Mike Wallace ($12 million) and Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million) are at the top of the average salaries per seasons for wide receivers.

Does Cruz belong at that level? What about Bryant?

Whatever Cruz gets, Bryant's agent, Eugene Parker, will look at and make sure he tells Jerry and Stephen Jones to take care of his client from a financial standpoint.

I think it's impossible to make a prediction about Bryant's deal until we see at least one more year of Bryant. If he continues to show that he's got his off-field life together, and if he continues to play the way he did in 2012, he will indeed be able to ask for at least what Wallace and Bowe received, and likely more. If he slips up again off the field, or his play is inconsistent in 2013, or if he gets hurt, then old questions arise. I don't see Cruz cracking that top five Calvin listed here even if he gets every dollar he's asking for, so the only way he becomes a benchmark for Bryant is if Bryant does not continue to perform at that elite level over the next year or two. But I think 2012 was just the start for Bryant, who has the talent to become one of the very best in the entire league at his position.
When you look at some of the younger wide receivers in the NFL, finances are a major part of the discussion.

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Which brings us to what the New York Giants' Victor Cruz is looking for from his team and what Dez Bryant could potentially demand from the Dallas Cowboys.

Cruz was tendered by the Giants at $2.8 million but wants a long-term deal averaging close to $10 million a season. The Giants want him to average less than that.

What does this mean for Bryant?

The young receiver is signed through 2014 and will make base salaries of $1.5 million in 2013 and $1.7 million in 2014. He's also slated to make $500,000 in workout bonuses the next two seasons.

Bryant is coming off a career season where he had 92 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's emerged as Tony Romo's main target in the passing game and might become the emotional leader of the offense if he continues on his current path.

The Cowboys need to be cautious what they pay Bryant because of his questionable decisions off the field -- which, in fairness, don't seem to be an issue anymore -- and what the top receivers make.

Larry Fitzgerald ($16.1 million), Calvin Johnson ($15.6 million), Andre Johnson ($14.4 million), Mike Wallace ($12 million) and Dwayne Bowe ($11.2 million) are at the top of the average salaries per seasons for wide receivers.

Does Cruz belong at that level? What about Bryant?

Whatever Cruz gets, Bryant's agent, Eugene Parker, will look at and make sure he tells Jerry and Stephen Jones to take care of his client from a financial standpoint.

Cowboys position series: Wide receivers

February, 7, 2012
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This is the third in a 12-part series on the Cowboys roster.

[+] EnlargeLaurent Robinson
Tim Heitman/US PresswireThe Cowboys' biggest offseason decision regarding the receiving corps will be whether to re-sign Laurent Robinson.
Players: Miles Austin (signed through 2016), Dez Bryant (signed through 2014), Laurent Robinson (unrestricted free agent), Kevin Ogletree (restricted free agent), Dwayne Harris (signed through 2014), Andre Holmes (signed through 2013), Raymond Radway (signed through 2013), Teddy Williams (reserves/future contract)

Top free agents: Wes Welker, New England Patriots; Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints; DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles; Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers; Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs.

Top draft prospects: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State; Michael Floyd, Notre Dame; Kendall Wright, Baylor; Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina; Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers.

2011 review: Robinson, who was signed in early September after being cut by the Chargers, ended up being the Cowboys’ most effective receiver. It took an injury to Austin and ineffectiveness by Ogletree for Robinson to get a significant role, but he led the Cowboys with 11 touchdown catches and was second among the team’s wideouts in catches (54) and receiving yards (858). Bryant didn’t have a 100-yard game all season, but he made significant progress, finishing his second year with 63 catches for 928 yards and nine touchdowns. Austin was a disappointment in the second year of a $54 million contract. He missed six games due to two hamstring strains, finishing the season with only 43 catches for 579 yards and seven touchdowns.

Offseason preview: The Cowboys’ biggest decision regarding the receiving corps will be whether to re-sign Robinson. He’s made it clear that he wants to return to Valley Ranch and has indicated that the Cowboys wouldn’t necessarily have to be the top bidders to keep him. What the Cowboys would be willing to pay for a No. 3 receiver who has proven he can be a quality fill-in starter isn’t clear. If the Cowboys don’t re-sign Robinson, they’ll need to find another third receiver, whether it’s in the draft or another free-agency bargain.

Bryan Broaddus’ Scout’s Eye: The Cowboys will be set at starters with Austin and Bryant. The biggest question will be if the club makes the effort to try and re-sign Robinson or if it allows him to leave via free agency. I would not be surprised if the front office allows Robinson to walk. If that is the case, then his numbers will need to be replaced. Let's be honest, Ogletree can't do the job as the third receiver. Ogletree has been given every opportunity to step up and take that job, but he can't do it. If not Robinson or Ogletree, there is Holley, Harris, Radway and Holmes. Holley had some productive snaps but mainly on special teams. Harris was off and on the practice squad. Radway is an interesting player because if he didn't get injured on the last play of the preseason game against the Dolphins, there was a great chance he was going to make the roster. The plan will be to try and find another Robinson in free agency with the available receivers. I don't see them using a high pick on a receiver but taking the approach of looking at a height-weight-speed player later.

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