As the deadline to come to an agreement on a long-term deal loomed, amid threats of skipping training camp and possibly regular-season games, Bryant signed a five-year deal worth $70 million on Wednesday that will pay him an average of $14 million per season, league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Bryant's deal includes $32 million in fully guaranteed money, including a $20 million signing bonus and guaranteed salaries of $3 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016, sources told ESPN. That guaranteed money will increase to a total of $45 million if Bryant is still on the team's roster on the fifth day of the league year in 2016, kicking in another guaranteed $13 million for the 2017 season, sources said. Bryant's base salary for 2018 and 2019 will be $12.5 million per year, sources said.
A two-time Pro Bowl receiver, Bryant arrived at the Cowboys' facility Wednesday afternoon, and a photo of him signing the deal was tweeted by a reporter for DallasCowboys.com.
— Nick Eatman (@nickeatman) July 15, 2015
"I smiled the whole way over here -- I couldn't even say nothing but just smile and laugh, because I couldn't believe it," Bryant told a reporter for the team's website. "All I could just think about is that it's a dream -- a dream come true. I think the only thing that's missing is a Super Bowl.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his son, Stephen Jones, the team's executive vice president, flew to New York and spent five hours Tuesday night meeting with Bryant's Roc Nation representatives, including Jay Z, the hip-hop mogul who founded the agency. The deal was completed Wednesday after more talks between Stephen Jones and Tom Condon, Bryant's CAA representative, Jerry Jones told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Jerry Jones said he and his son met with Jay Z and the Roc Nation folks "just to talk about the advice they provide for him off the field, the supervision, and wanted everyone on the same page."
"Jay Z hired Tom Condon to do the deal, and that's exactly what happened," Jones said. "The terms, the details of the contract, that was Condon and Stephen (Jones). In fact, Roc Nation is not even certified to do a contract, but they provide Dez with great advice and support. There was no money discussed with Roc Nation.
"If we were not comfortable with how Dez has grown over the past five years off the field and the support that includes Roc Nation, this deal probably doesn't get done. I'm happy for both sides. It's a great deal for Dez, and he's earned this contract. We're satisfied with the terms and structure. Condon and Stephen worked hard on the contract to get it done on time."
If the Cowboys and Bryant hadn't reached a deal by 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, Bryant could have played in 2015 only under the one-year, $12.823 million franchise tag tender. On Monday, Bryant tweeted that he wouldn't report to camp and might miss regular-season games -- at a cost of $754,000 per week -- if that were the case.
The Cowboys thought they were close to a long-term deal with Bryant last year that would have avoided the franchise-tag drama, but the talks fell apart and ultimately led to Bryant changing agents, from Eugene Parker to Roc Nation and CAA's Condon.
Condon and Roc Nation's Kim Miale met with the Cowboys after the NFL scouting combine in February and again in late June, but those discussions didn't push them closer to a deal. As the deadline approached, Bryant let his feelings be known through social media.
In addition, a source told ESPN that the NFL Players Association promised to look into possible collusion between the Cowboys and Denver Broncos, who reached agreement Wednesday on a five-year, $70 million deal with receiver Demaryius Thomas. According to the source, the union said it has credible information that the Cowboys and Broncos shared details of their negotiations regarding their respective receivers.
The Broncos, in a statement released Wednesday, denied the reports.
Ultimately, both sides got what they wanted all along: Bryant got his long-term security, and the Cowboys secured the rights to one of the game's best receivers for multiple years.
"There was never a doubt in my mind that we wanted a long-term deal with Dez," Jerry Jones said in a conference call. "We just had to get the pot right.
"I'm proud for him, and you have to be proud for him individually when you consider the magnitude of this contract," Jones said. "It's a life-changer for him, but he's worked to get it."
Cowboys QB Tony Romo tweeted his congratulations to Bryant later Wednesday.
Couldn't be happier for my guy @DezBryant . Nobody deserves it more... just make sure you don't forget your wallet at the next dinner 88.
— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) July 15, 2015
It took some time to get there.
Since being taken in the first round in 2010, Bryant has blossomed into one of the best receivers in the NFL. Off-field concerns before the draft allowed the Cowboys to select him with the 24th overall pick, and he had a few scrapes with the law his first few seasons, but the Cowboys have seen him mature on and off the field since.
In 2014, Bryant was named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season -- but he did not play in the game -- after posting 88 catches for 1,320 yards and a Cowboys single-season-record 16 touchdown receptions.
Bryant nearly helped the Cowboys reach their first NFC Championship Game since 1995 with a fourth-down catch at the 1 late in the fourth quarter in a January playoff game at Green Bay, only to see the grab controversially overturned by replay. Instead of having the chance for the go-ahead touchdown, the Cowboys never got the ball back, and their season ended.
"Now that we've got the deal done, I can only imagine what's fixing to go down this season," Bryant told the team's website. "We're Super Bowl ready."
In five seasons with the Cowboys, Bryant has caught 381 passes for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns. No player in team history has more catches, yards or touchdowns than Bryant in the first five years of his career.
"We know what he means to the team in many different ways, and he's evolved, to his credit. He's evolved into a player where he's indispensable to us," Jones said. "This is a real cornerstone as we look at the pieces that we're putting together."
Bryant is just the second Cowboy with three straight 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown-catch seasons, joining Terrell Owens, who did it from 2006 to '08. Bryant's 14 100-yard receiving games are tied for sixth in team history. He reached 50 career receiving touchdowns in 70 games, becoming the second-fastest player in team history to reach the feat -- Hall of Famer Bob Hayes did it in 66 games -- and the seventh-fastest in NFL history.
Information from ESPN's Adam Schefter and Darren Rovell contributed to this report.