After all the posturing about holding out, a deal is now complete between the Cowboys and star wide receiver Dez Bryant to the tune of $70 million over five years. The contract will make Bryant the second highest paid receiver in the NFL and comes a few days after Bryant stated he would not play without a new contract and the NFLPA stated they would file a claim of collusion if he was not signed. The deal looks to be a nice compromise for both sides, who seemed locked in an argument over Calvin Johnson’s $16 million contract.
Initial reports were that Dallas wanted Bryant to sign a contract similar to the one they signed with Tyron Smith last season. This was a contract that would break records for total value, but lock the player up for a considerable period of time, in his case eight years. Bryant was instead looking for a contract that was closer to Megatron’s massive deal with Detroit, which nobody else in the NFL views as valid. At the end of the day the two sides seemed to compromise on a number of points.
At $14 million per season, Dallas clearly got the concession that Johnson’s contract is not valid as Bryant has been as good as Johnson was during the same time period of his career. The $14 million price tag essentially falls right in line with how much better Bryant is than the next tier of players (Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, etc…) at the position. It essentially splits the difference between the two markets. It is also worth noting that because of the difference in length of contract we should focus on Johnson’s five year average which is $15.6 million per year. That is the true comparison not the $16.2 million full value.
The Cowboys conceded the years on the contract which will give Bryant an opportunity to test free agency in 2020. That is an important date because it is the final year of the CBA. That year will be difficult for extensions if the CBA is not extended but wont be an issue for free agents. The Cowboys also conceded on some guarantees, which Mortensen said were worth $45 million. While those won’t be full guarantees like Johnson’s they are close to Johnson’s $48.75 million in guarantees (which were full).
According to Pro Football Talk Bryant will recieve a $20 million signing bonus and $23 million in first year salary. That should make his cap charge just $7 million this season. That money is fully guaranteed and would rank third at the position. PFT also said that $22 million more becomes fully guaranteed the following March. That could mean that his three year payout will be $45 million, but I tend to think that some guarantees could extend to the fourth year.
If that is his three year payout then it is in line with Johnson’s $45.75 million three year salary. The rest of the market earned between $33 and $37 million in the first three contract years, which is why I think the number probably extends to year four. If not that was another concession, not that unlike the deals signed years ago by Darrelle Revis that mimiced the short term cash flows of a particular contract while compromising on some other points.
This contract likely sets the new parameters for a few players moving forward including Demaryius Thomas, AJ Green, and Julio Jones.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.