Ed Werder, ESPN NFL Insider
As the NFL deadline approaches for franchise players to sign multiyear contracts, wide receiver Dez Bryant has attempted to increase the pressure on the Dallas Cowboys.
The wide receiver personally informed Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones that he will not attend training camp and will sit out regular-season games unless they reach agreement on a long-term deal before Wednesday's deadline, according to league sources.
Jones, in a text message Monday, denied that Bryant communicated to him his willingness to miss training camp and regular-season games.
The Cowboys and Bryant's representatives, both CAA's Tom Condon and members of Roc Nation, have had one face-to-face negotiating session. They have exchanged proposals once, just before the Fourth of July holiday.
The ultimatum was personally delivered in a phone call last week, reiterating what Bryant's representatives have been telling the team. Bryant told Jones that he understands the league created the franchise player designation with the approval of the NFLPA and that he wants to spend his career playing for the Cowboys.
But Bryant also made the argument that he has proved himself to be the top receiver in the league over the past five years and should be compensated accordingly.
Bryant, Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul are all franchise-tagged players, and the NFL deadline for signing a long-term deal is Wednesday. If the players have not signed by then, they'll receive their pay for this season at the franchise tender if they agree to sign it, which in Bryant's case is $12.8 million.
Bryant cannot be fined for missing training camp without signing his franchise tender but would be forfeiting $752,000 for each regular-season game missed while not having the ability to get the long-term contract he desires.
Last season, in a contract year, Bryant led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions. The Cowboys won the NFC East with a 12-4 record and helped coach Jason Garrett earn a contract extension.
The Cowboys have reacted as though they perceive Bryant's rhetoric to be an empty threat. He has undermined it by taking part in some individual drills during team OTAs and by appearing on the sideline at minicamp even though little or no progress had been achieved in negotiations.
If Bryant follows through on his threat, the Cowboys would begin the season without arguably their best offensive player as well as pass-rusher Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain, both of whom are suspended for the first four weeks of the season.