- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Cowboys are in the early stages of working on a contract for first-round pick Dez Bryant.
The question of what to pay Bryant is a little tricky, since no first-rounder has been signed this year. With the Cowboys starting training camp early --their first practice is Saturday -- it's difficult to determine the going rate for draft picks in the low 20s.
Last year's No. 24 pick, Atlanta defensive tackle Peria Jerry, signed a five-year $13.25 million contract with $7.55 million guaranteed. Bryant probably wants to see more guaranteed money than that. Minnesota wide receiver Percy Harvin got about $8.5 million guaranteed.
Then there's Michael Crabtree of San Francisco who was the 10th pick of the draft last year but the second receiver taken. Crabtree, who is also represented by Parker, was considered the best receiver of the 2009 draft. His contract talks lasted into October but when it was over he signed a six-year deal for $32 million that could increase to $40 million if certain incentives are met.
Crabtree, a Dallas native who went to Carter High School, has about $17 million in guaranteed money.
Bryant was the 24th pick and the second wide receiver taken, and is probably expecting some sort of Top 10 money. Team vice president Stephen Jones said recently it shouldn't be difficult to sign players, especially Bryant because the team has a good relationship with his agent, Eugene Parker.
Under normal conditions, a few picks would have been signed and the Cowboys could almost judge what they could pay Bryant based on his slot in the first round.
Not here. In this case, the Cowboys are setting the market. That's something they don't want to do but they have no choice.
Expect the Bryant deal to get done, but for the rookie to miss the first few days of camp, which isn't a big deal. Yes, you would like Bryant to arrive in San Antonio on time, but if he misses Saturday and Sunday practices, it's not the end of the world.
The problems come in when it's five to six days into camp and he's not in San Antonio.