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Cowboys not worried about Bryant’s contract

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Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is not worried star wide receiver Dez Bryant remains unsigned.

Bryant has yet to sign his franchise tag, guaranteeing him $12.7 million in 2015, but Jones said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix that he is confident Bryant will be under contract before the season starts.

“I’m not worried about that at all, and it’s because of how much he loves the game, how much he knows that preparation, practice, all of that improves him,” Jones said. “He’s at a time in his career where he’s physically still very much improving, can get better.

“The biggest reason I want a long-term agreement with Dez is so we’ll have a deal with him for a long term — but not as far as impacting what we’re doing this year in terms of what Dez’s performance will be or what we are as a team. We’ve got that in place with the franchise. So I’m not worried. I know how much he loves to play football, I know how much he loves his teammates, I know how much he loves his team and I know how much money he’s getting. With all of that, you play.”

Jones did not indicate when a long-term deal could be reached.

“I don’t know, and Dez doesn’t know,” Jones said. “The point is, though, that the franchise agreement is set there to pay a lot of money to a player, and for a club to have some inconvenience because it can’t pro-rate the salary out. But certainly a club can pay a key player a lot of money to have success on the field. That’s why it’s there. I don’t see angst there at all. I hear angst from media, but I don’t see angst.”

Bryant has been quiet on the subject, but Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said the coaches have been in regular contact with the wideout. He expects Bryant to be a full participant when offseason workouts begin in late April.

“We have had good contact with him,” Stephen Jones said. “We fully expect him to show up. We haven’t heard otherwise. He hasn’t come in to sign the guarantee. The day he signs it is guaranteed. But we fully expect him to show up, come in and work out. We haven’t been told any different.”

The Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Bryant to a long-term deal. If no agreement is reached, he would be forced to play the 2015 season with the tag.

Stephen Jones acknowledged there has been no progress on contract talks with Bryant — largely because of an unsettled wide receiver market waiting for long-term deals, including Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos, A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons.

Once one signs a long-term deal, the dominoes could fall for the others.

“I think the receiver market is not unique to us,” Stephen Jones said. “You had Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson way up here. The rest of the market is down here. And the receivers want to squeeze that differential.”

Meanwhile, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday newly signed defensive end Greg Hardy understands the Cowboys will cut him if he doesn’t conduct himself in the right way.

The free agent Hardy signed with the Cowboys last week despite serious domestic violence allegations.

“The conditions of the contract were important: No guaranteed money, earn it every step of the way. At any point, if we don’t feel like you’re doing what we want you to do as a player and as a person, we can move on from you,” Garrett said.

The deal for the former Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl player is heavy on incentives and carries a salary of $750,000, but Hardy could earn $13.1 million.


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