Off-field concerns linger, but Dez continues to prove his worth in Dallas
Bryant continued his stellar season in Week 10, posting a team-record six catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter alone. He's already closing in on 800 yards for the season and the Cowboys have six games left.
There is little doubt that Bryant has earned a massive contract, on the field.
Off the field, however, there may be lingering concerns.
The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on this week's NFL GameDay Morning that "the Cowboys, I am told by multiple sources involved in the situation, do not trust Dez Bryant off the field. They feared -- and they have feared for a while -- that it will all blow up in his face, that a variety of small incidents will all come back to haunt him."
Rapoport cited six instances of police being called to Bryant's house, including once because "the fire department had to come and unlock his car that had a sleeping baby inside." Because of that concern, per Rapoport, the Cowboys have not yet budged on their best contract offer to Bryant: 10 years and $114 million, but with just a $5 million signing bonus, $20 million guaranteed and an average of $10 million per season over the first six years.
Those numbers would put him on the fringe of the highest-paid receivers in football. Brandon Marshall signed a three-year, $30 million extension, but Calvin Johnson is locked into a whopping $47 million guaranteed and six receivers (Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Percy Harvin, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe and Vincent Jackson) are making more than $10 million per year as of 2014.
Bryant arguably has played his way past most of the talents listed there.
"Yeah, I deserve it," Bryant told ESPNDallas.com of a possible long-term extension back in May. "I deserve it. I feel like I do. I put the work in. But I let that kind of stuff take care of itself. It is what it is. I let my agent talk about it and give me some feedback."
He recently changed agents to Jay-Z's Roc Nation. The Cowboys still hold most of the cards, though, since they could slap the franchise tag on Bryant for next season. (The 2014 WR franchise tag landed at about $12.3 million.)
Bryant has said -- as just about every upper-echelon NFL player would -- that he does not want the Cowboys to utilize the tag. Dallas probably would prefer to avoid it, too, yet may not have another choice if the two sides cannot reach some sort of amicable agreement.
Jerry Jones simply cannot allow Bryant to leave Dallas right now, in the midst of the receiver's prime.
And it's possible Bryant isn't even there yet. He seems to get more dominant with each passing week, no longer lacking the focus that occasionally eluded him on a game-to-game basis.
The Jaguars were the latest team unable to corral Bryant on Sunday. They certainly were not the first, nor will they be the last. For all the supposed questions about how Bryant may handle continued success, he has done nothing on the field of late to lessen his reputation.
One way or another, he'll have to get paid.