When asked on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Friday, Bryant was asked if he would be willing to take a cut in pay to remain with the team.
“That’s a discussion for me, for myself and my agent and Mr. Jones and the Joneses, the Dallas Cowboys,” Bryant said.
Late last season Bryant said he would not take a pay cut. He is set to make $12.5 million in 2018 and counts $16.5 million against the cap. If the Cowboys were to release Bryant, who is the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown catches, they could save up to $12.5 million against the cap depending on the designation.
If he is designated a post-June 1 cut, then the Cowboys would save $12.5 million against the cap, but he would be on the books in 2019 for $4 million. Without the designation, they would save $8 million and they would be free from a salary-cap perspective in 2019.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones has said the Cowboys will have to look at Bryant’s contract. It is likely they will meet with Bryant’s agent, Kim Miale, next week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“No one wants to compete and get after it more than Dez,” Jones said at the first Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award dinner. “At the same time, we all know this is a business where everyone has to be accountable. Certainly, everybody knows that. You know, that’s a tough one. Certainly, we’re going to be grinding it out and trying to determine what is in the best interest of our business.”
“Dez understands this is a business. No one thinks more of Dez Bryant than, starting at the top, Jerry [Jones], and certainly me, his teammates, coach [Jason] Garrett, Will McClay,” Jones said. “We all have a tremendous amount of respect for Dez. But that’s one of the things we’re going to have to work through as we move into our future.”
On The Fan, Bryant said he played hurt through part of last season. He said in the final month of the season he dealt with tendinitis that impacted his performance, but he did not miss a game for the first time since 2014. He finished with 69 receptions for 838 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was 28th in the league in yards and tied for 24th in catches.
Since signing a five-year, $70 million contract in 2015, Bryant has not recorded a 1,000-yard season. He battled through foot and knee injuries in 2015 and 2016.
“I don’t even want it to sound like an excuse, but it is the truth,” Bryant said of being compromised by injury. “It’s like one thing that I know — [head athletic trainer Jim Maurer] will tell you — I hate going in that training room. I don’t like going in that training room, especially when I needed to be in that training room.
“But this time around, I want to take care of my body. I want to get it all the way right. I want it to be right. I promise you I ain’t having nobody questioning me again. This is what I love, and I accept everything that’s coming my way right now. That’s OK. That’s fine. I just want to work. That all I want to do. I want to work. I want to stay out of the way. I want to control what I can control and I want my respect. That’s it.”
Bryant said he could not picture himself playing for another team.
“It don’t seem right,” Bryant said on The Fan. “It wouldn’t be right.”
Bryant grew up a Cowboys fan in Lufkin, Texas. The Cowboys selected him with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 draft.
“Man, honestly, it means everything to me,” Bryant said of playing in Dallas. “It means everything. I do want to bring this city a championship. We ain’t had one since the ’90s, and it really is about that time. That’s where my mind is. And we haven’t done it and I want to be a part of that because I do believe that it can happen, and we’ll just have to see.
“Like I said, I’m still working. I’m still grinding. I feel like I’m grinding more than I ever [have] because of me, not because of nobody else. It’s something that I want to do, something I feel like I have to do. I let a lot of things get in the way that shouldn’t have never got in the way. I really didn’t make my mark. I don’t care what nobody is talking about. I could care less. Everybody ain’t with Dez Bryant, they can kiss my ass.”
Three QBs from College Football Playoff among 131 players on official early entry NFL draft list
Ohio State junior quarterback Justin Fields is among 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL into the league’s draft, while national championship-winning QBs Mac Jones from Alabama and Trevor Lawrence from Clemson are among another 30 players eligible after completing their degrees and deciding not to play more in college.
Those 128 players, plus three more who inquired about their draft status but didn’t need special eligibility, were on the NFL’s official list released Friday as available to be drafted after giving up their remaining college eligibility. The 131 total players is 11 more than last year, but still below the record 132 two years ago.
Fields, Jones and Lawrence, three of the starting quarterbacks from the four-team College Football Playoff earlier this month, had previously said publicly they were moving on to the NFL. The draft is April 29-May 1 in Cleveland.
They accounted for half of the six quarterbacks on the early entry list. The others are Zach Wilson after leading BYU to an 11-1 season, Stanford’s Davis Mills and Trey Lance, who led FCS powerhouse North Dakota State to a national title a year ago.
National champion Alabama has five players leaving early after beating Ohio State in the CFP title game on Jan. 11, with All-America quarterback Jones and linebacker Dylan Moses both early graduates. All-America cornerback Patrick Surtain II, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and receiver Jaylen Waddle were among the 98 players who met the NFL’s three-year eligibility rule.
Lawrence was 43-2 as Clemson’s starter and led the Tigers to the national title at the end of the 2018 season.
The 30 players with college eligibility remaining after completing their degree requirements had to notify the NFL of their intentions for the draft. That was up from 16 such players last year.
As for those 98 players granted special eligibility without yet finishing their degrees, that was one fewer than last year and the lowest total since 95 in 2017. Players less than four years removed from high school who have not completed a degree need to be granted special entry to the draft by the NFL.
Southern California has the most players leaving early for NFL draft eligibility with six. Stanford and Ohio State matched Alabama with five each.
That total for Stanford doesn’t include offensive tackles Walker Little and Foster Sarell, who inquired about their draft status but can be selected without the need for special eligibility. The only other player in that group was UAB linebacker Jordan Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, still in concussion protocol, at practice again Friday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes was with the Kansas City Chiefs as they began Friday’s practice session, their last one before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.
His participation on Friday would appear to put Mahomes on a path to play Sunday. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Mahomes took all of the snaps in Wednesday’s practice and a majority of them on Thursday.
Mahomes was knocked out of last week’s divisional-round playoff win over the Browns with symptoms of a concussion after he was tackled hard on a running play. He has been in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Three other key Chiefs players who have been fighting injuries were also present for the start of Friday’s practice: wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf), running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (hip, ankle) and cornerback Bashaud Breeland (concussion, shoulder).
Coach Sean McDermott said the Bills were preparing for Mahomes to play.
“I guess at the beginning of the week we weren’t quite sure, and we really won’t know, I guess,” McDermott said. “It’s probably trending in that direction, so that’s what we’re anticipating.”
ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown ruled out for NFC title game vs. Green Bay Packers
“I just talked to him this morning, and to put him on the plane and fly up there and have it swell more doesn’t any sense,” Arians said. “He wasn’t as close as we’d hoped, so we’ll get him ready for the next one.”
Brown suffered a knee injury in the divisional playoff game at the New Orleans Saints and played only 27 snaps. He did not practice this week.
Arians had described him as “day to day,” but Brown wasn’t able to progress quickly enough in his healing.
The former All-Pro led the Buccaneers in receiving targets the final five weeks of the regular season and had a 36-yard touchdown catch in their wild-card win over Washington. Brown also has experience playing in two league championship games and a Super Bowl, something few other players have on this roster outside of Tom Brady.
“It obviously sucks for Antonio. We wish he could be out there with us,” Brady said. “Other guys are gonna have to step up and do the job. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that haven’t been out there as much when AB’s been in there.”
Arians said he believes Scotty Miller and rookie Tyler Johnson will be able to step up. Johnson made a key third-down catch for 15 yards against the Saints. Miller had one catch for 29 yards against New Orleans, but he has been on the receiving end of some of Brady’s best deep pass plays this season — a 33-yard touchdown grab against the Las Vegas Raiders and a 48-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think if you just look to last week, when Scotty and Tyler made those huge plays in the fourth quarter, the amount of trust that the coaches and Tom have in those guys just because they’ve earned it. Their performances have earned it,” Arians said. “Antonio will be missed, but we’ve got capable people stepping in.”
Arians said there is a possibility that defensive tackle Vita Vea will play after returning to practice this week for the first time since fracturing his ankle in Week 5.
“He’s looked real good. He’s been running around for almost three weeks and had a real good practice yesterday and a good one today,” Arians said. “We haven’t made that determination yet, but we’ll see if we want to activate him or not. There is a chance.”
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