IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant, who was suspended most of his final season at Oklahoma State for lying to NCAA investigators, enters the NFL as a man of his word.
Bryant declared at the scouting combine that he wouldn’t miss a day of training camp. His agent, Eugene Parker, emphasized the receiver’s desire to sign on time when contacted by the Cowboys just before they traded up to draft Bryant with the 24th overall pick. Bryant reiterated that point after arriving at Valley Ranch.
There will be no drama of a training camp holdout. Bryant will spend his Saturday afternoon sweating at the Alamodome, running routes and building a rapport with Tony Romo.
Bryant’s five-year, $11.8 million deal got done two days before the Cowboys’ first camp practice, maximizing Bryant’s chances of making a major impact immediately for a Super Bowl contender.
Give Bryant credit for recognizing that he wouldn’t benefit from missing any practice reps. By reporting on time, he puts himself in position to challenge underachieving Roy Williams for a starting job.
"This was very important to me to be able to get this done in time for the first practice,” said Bryant, who missed a handful of offseason practices with various aches and pains. “I want to help this team. I want to compete. I can't wait to start playing football again."
Skeptics could easily connect the dots in anticipation of a lengthy Bryant holdout. After all, he’s represented by agent Eugene Parker and mentored by David Wells and Deion Sanders. Those men formed the core of Michael Crabtree’s supporting cast during a holdout until October last year. Like Crabtree, Bryant is a receiver who went later in the first round than anticipated.
However, the Cowboys were never concerned that Bryant would sit out during camp. They’ve had a good relationship with Parker for years, working with him on contracts for such players as Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins. And they believed Bryant when he talked about his eagerness to compete.
“You can make things difficult, but I think at the end of the day, the best thing that can happen to a rookie player is to get on the field right away,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said. “That certainly helps his long-term career, which ultimately helps his viability as he moves forward as far as future contracts are concerned. You get those contracts based on how you perform in your first one."
The Cowboys gave Bryant a contract that’s comparable to one signed by Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, last season’s 22nd overall pick and the offensive rookie of the year. It’s definitely a fair deal for the 24th overall pick.
The Cowboys believe Bryant will merit much more money the next time they negotiate with him. The rookie took a significant step in that direction by following through on his promise.