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INDIANAPOLIS — As people ponder the future of Dez Bryant with the Dallas Cowboys, what is not being said about it is almost as interesting as what is being said.

On Tuesday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team does not have any meetings scheduled with Bryant’s agent to talk about reworking his contract. Asked Wednesday if he wanted Bryant to return to the Cowboys in 2018, head coach Jason Garrett said the team has not had specific personnel meetings about any players yet.

“We had a wrap-up meeting at the end of the season, almost reviewing what happened last year,” Garrett said from the NFL scouting combine, “and we’ll have some more meetings starting this week, and then once we get back to Dallas about the specific roles for each of our players going forward.”

If Bryant’s future with the team was secure, there would be no need to entertain the possibilities of releasing him or asking him to take a pay cut, and the front office and coach would say so. The Cowboys’ decisions are these: Pay him $12.5 million and have him count $16.5 million against the cap, ask him to take a pay cut or release him.

There is no pressing need to make a move almost two weeks before free agency begins, since the Cowboys do not need the extra cap room.

“Obviously, a [decision] is going to happen sooner than later,” Jones said. “We’ve got the new year coming up. We have a lot of moving parts. We have been getting our staff together. Once we got our staff together, we have had some meetings. Then, of course, Jason [Garrett], his father passed, which was very unfortunate. We will spend a lot of time together this week. I’m sure we will start to make some pretty good headway.”

Like Jones, Garrett praised Bryant’s time with the Cowboys. Bryant is the franchise leader in touchdown catches. He put up three straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns.

“We have a tremendous amount of love for Dez Bryant as an organization,” Garrett said. “He’s made so many contributions to our team. I personally have a lot of love for him as a player and more so as a person. The growth and development that he’s made over the course of his career with us has been exponential and has made a huge impact on our team.”

But business intersects with production. Bryant’s production has fallen in the past three years, and not solely because of his play. He had foot and knee injuries in 2015 and ’16. The Cowboys had poor quarterback play in 2015, with Tony Romo playing just four games because of a twice-broken collarbone. In 2016, the Cowboys were a run-first offense led by Ezekiel Elliott. In 2017, the offense stagnated in the second half of the season in part of because of Elliott’s suspension.

“Obviously, there are a lot of decisions we have to make with our team,” Garrett said. “Like we’ve talked about, your 2018 team will be different than 2017. We have some guys who are out of contract. We have some guys at different kinds of contracts that you have to discuss every year.”

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Gardner Minshew’s mullet is no more

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Mondays are heavy days historically, but this one is particularly so because Gardner Minshew II‘s mullet is no more.

Yeah, Minshew may have gotten a hair cut yesterday, but this is the first I’m learning about it. So the pain is as fresh as if the stylist had just swept the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ backup quarterback’s fallen locks from the floor.

In what feels like the last remnant of a phenomenon once known as “Minshew Mania,” the former pride of Duval County chopped off his power source:

At the risk of sounding rash, it seems to me Trevor Lawrence came to town and basically told his new QB2 that there wasn’t enough room for both of their glorious heads of hair in that town and, well, we know who won that battle.

To be fair, I sort of knew this was going to happen as soon as Tim Tebow signed with the Jags.

Tebow, Lawrence’s mane AND one of the defining mullets of our generation? That’s just too much juice for one team.

Now, let us take one last look at Minshew’s former masterpiece for posterity:

In the haunting words of Michelle Branch: “Goodbye to you, goodbye to everything that I knew.”



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Minnesota Vikings expect DE Danielle Hunter at mandatory minicamp, source says

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings expect to have defensive end Danielle Hunter back in the fold this week during mandatory minicamp, a source told ESPN, after the Pro Bowl defensive end missed the team’s entire voluntary offseason program.

Hunter, 26, sat out the 2020 NFL season with a herniated disk that required surgery last October. At the time of his surgery, it was reported that the defensive end was unhappy with the state of his contract and wanted a reworked deal ahead of the 2021 season.

NFL Network, which first reported that Hunter planned to attend minicamp, is reporting that the Vikings and Hunter have agreed to terms on a reworked deal that will give the defensive end $5.6 million of the $12.75 million he is set to make in 2021 as a signing bonus. Hunter now has an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

With $14.272 million in cap space, the Vikings moved up a significant amount of money to satisfy Hunter’s desire for more compensation in the short term while allowing both parties the time to work out a long-term extension following the 2021 season, NFL Network reported. The Vikings will need to make a decision on Hunter’s future by the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

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CB Stephon Gilmore doesn’t report for New England Patriots’ mandatory minicamp, source says

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, did not report to mandatory minicamp that began Monday, a source confirmed.

Gilmore could be making a statement about his contract, as he is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced $4.5 million of Gilmore’s 2021 salary to him last year, leading to this year’s low figure.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million pact he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

Acknowledging they didn’t have specifics of the situation, teammates noted Gilmore’s absence in the locker room Monday, as well as on the practice field.

“I support my brother. I wish he was here, but I support him all the same,” veteran safety Adrian Phillips said. “What he has going, whenever he gets back here, he’ll let you know how it went.”

Longtime captain Matthew Slater added: “That’s a situation I don’t want to get too far into, because it’s frankly none of my business. Obviously you support all your teammates, whether they are here or not.”

Head coach Bill Belichick deflected questions on Gilmore earlier Monday and wouldn’t reveal whether he has given him (or any player) an excused absence. Players who don’t report for mandatory minicamp can be fined up to $93,085 — which breaks down to $15,515 for the first missed day, $31,030 for the second missed day and $46,540 for the third missed day.

Gilmore partially tore his quad in a Week 15 loss last season, landing on injured reserve.

The Boston Globe first reported Gilmore’s absence.

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