Cowboys to franchise Dez Bryant

ByTodd Archer ESPN logo
Sunday, March 1, 2015
ESPN

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys informed the agent for Dez Bryant on Friday that they will place the franchise tag on the All-Pro wide receiver by Monday's deadline, executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed.

The Cowboys have to notify the league of the move by 4 p.m. ET Monday, which will guarantee Bryant roughly $13 million in 2015. The Cowboys will not use the exclusive franchise tag on Bryant, but a team would have to give up two first-round picks if Dallas chooses not to match an offer sheet.

At the NFL scouting combine earlier this month in Indianapolis, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he hoped the tag would be a "placeholder" until the two sides can work out a long-term deal with Bryant. Jerry and Stephen Jones had their first face-to-face meetings with Bryant's new agents, Tom Condon of CAA and Kim Miale of Roc Nation, last Tuesday.

During the season, Bryant said he would be "highly disappointed" if he was given the tag.

It will be the fifth time in team history the Cowboys have used the franchise tag. The others were Flozell Adams (2002), Ken Hamlin (2008) and Anthony Spencer (2012, '13).

Bryant changed agents last November after the Cowboys thought they were close to a multiyear agreement with the wideout. They had only a couple of conversations with his new reps during the season and did not meet with them at the combine.

Since joining the Cowboys as a first-round pick in 2010, Bryant has been one of the NFL's most dynamic receivers.

In five seasons with the Cowboys, Bryant has caught 381 passes for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns. No player in team history has more catches, yards or touchdowns than Bryant in the first five years of his career.

While the Cowboys have mapped out their plan for Bryant, they appear ready to allow the NFL's rushing champ, DeMarco Murray, to hit the open market. At the scouting combine, Stephen Jones said if Murray did not sign before free agency began it would not preclude his return, citing Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek as past examples.

Teams can start talking to free agents March 7, and they can sign unrestricted free agents March 10.

Murray led the NFL in rushing in 2014 with 1,845 yards rushing, setting a Cowboys single-season record, while playing in every game for the first time in his career, even working through a broken left hand. Murray has expressed his desire to stay with the Cowboys, who have expressed the desire to keep him. However, coming to the right price has proven difficult.

The Cowboys have had talks with Murray's agent, but don't anticipate anything to change substantially between now and the start of free agency.

Related Video