The reality all along was that he’d be getting one, whether he wanted one or not. The only question was whether he’d be taking less than $12.5 million in 2018 salary with the Cowboys or with someone else.
So with the Cowboys never even asking Bryant to take a pay cut (Bryant has said so himself), it’s entirely possible that the Cowboys decided not to risk creating a poisonous situation with a player who quite possibly would be upset with the notion that the team carved away at the money he was supposed to make this year.
David Moore of the Dallas Morning News takes a close, comprehensive look at the situation, raising among other things the possibility that the Cowboys decided not to risk having to deal with a disgruntled Dez.
“Money was the spark, but the decision on Bryant quickly evolved into where he stands as a player, how he approaches his job and what’s important to him,” Moore writes. “Could the receiver’s temperament allow him to handle a pay cut, or would his hurt and resentment seep into the locker room and impact his interactions with coaches and teammates?”
Of course, the Cowboys now have to deal with a disgruntled Dez, from the outside not the inside. Even if he doesn’t sign with a team that will be playing the Cowboys, he’ll quite possibly be complaining about the team wherever and whenever he can. The Cowboys probably won’t care about Dez complaining, but if his complaints gain traction — and if fans start to echo the things that Dez will be saying — then it could get problematic.
It definitely will become problematic if Dez thrives in his next destination. In addition to the stones Dez may be throwing at his former team, others will start saying, “I told you so.”
Compounding matters would the possibility that the post-Dez receiving corps in Dallas can’t get it done, with no No. 1 receiver and a collection of guys who can’t do what Dez once did.
Wherever Dez goes next, an eight-year marriage has ended in a divorce that already has gotten a little ugly. How ugly it gets remains to be seen.