- Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter
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Sando had help from two NFL general managers, an offensive assistant and a defensive coordinator. If you want to read the full story, you have to be an Insider, but Bryant ranked ahead of guys such as Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree and Jordy Nelson.
There are six receivers in the NFL earning more than $11 million per season. Does Bryant join that list with Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson? Do we need to point out the new deal DeSean Jackson signed with the Washington Redskins is with $8 million annually?
Here’s what Sando wrote about Bryant:
Bryant lined up on the perimeter for 89.1 percent of his routes last season, the highest percentage for any player on this list. Versatility is great and teams certainly feature players from the slot, but being labeled as a "slot guy" isn't the best thing for a player's value in evaluators' eyes. "It's such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch the field," a veteran assistant coach said.
Bryant, who turns 26 in November, accounted for 29.2 percent of the Cowboys' receiving yards last season. That was the highest percentage for any player on the list. He also accounted for 39.4 percent of his team's receiving touchdowns, by far the highest for any player on this list and the third highest for any wide receiver, behind Fitzgerald (41.4 percent) and Megatron (39.4).
"You'd better pay Dez Bryant," one of the GMs said. "Jerry Jones had better pay him. The antics you see, that is raw emotion, his competitive flair coming out."
Another GM expressed some concern about paying Bryant top dollar based on Bryant's overall makeup, but both GMs ranked Bryant first on their list, as did the defensive coordinator. "Teams will bid on Bryant," a third GM said, "but not all the teams will be in on that, because of his personality."
Bryant is set to make $1.78 million on the final year of his rookie contract. He doesn’t want to leave. The Cowboys don’t want him to leave. How they reach an agreement will be interesting. Bryant did not dismiss the idea of a hometown discount in this story from Tim MacMahon last month. I’ve written that the structure will matter most.
There is always the possibility of the franchise tag.
But I will ask this question: When was the last time the Cowboys lost somebody they wanted to keep?
IRVING, Texas -- ESPN Insider Mike Sando has a piece up on the loaded 2015 class of potential free-agent wide receivers, and the Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant leads the list.