News & Info/Headlines
This after Bryant, asked about Mortensen's report, told NFL Network's Michael Silver, "It's not a rumor. It's legit."
That's obviously not what fantasy football owners want to hear. But now that we have it directly from Bryant, the issue climbs a bit higher on the radar -- even if it sounds more like a hard-line stance in the ongoing public side of negotiations between Bryant and the Cowboys than a realistic possibility at this point.
In case you haven't been following along, Bryant has not signed his franchise tag, which would guarantee him $12,823,000 for the 2015 season. The deadline for franchise-tagged players to negotiate and sign a long-term contract is July 15.
But at this point, Bryant's only other options are to play under the $12.823 million tag or not play at all.
As ESPN.com pointed out, Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel Stephen Jones said last week that the team would make a push to get Bryant signed before the deadline. However, the team reportedly has not made a new proposal since prior to the 2014 season. Bryant has since changed contract representatives, from Eugene Parker to Tom Condon.
Even though he has not participated in the team's offseason workouts, Bryant did appear at one OTA session and participated in individual drills. The Cowboys hold their mandatory mini-camp next week, but Bryant is not subject to mandatory attendance because he technically is not under contract.
Bryant is entering his sixth NFL season. His production during the past three seasons is comparable to the best three-year stretch of several all-time great receivers: Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Lance Alworth.
In 2014, he caught 88 passes for 1,350 yards and 16 touchdowns.
So what are the chances Bryant follows through with his threat?
As Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio points out, whether it's legit or not, it's irrelevant until Week 1 comes. Bryant can stay away from all offseason workouts, training camp, and the preseason without losing a penny. Come September, Bryant would lose $752,941.17 for every week he misses.
He could, in theory, show up as late as the Tuesday after Week 10, get credit for the contract year, and do it all over again in 2016, at a 20-percent raise over his $12.8 million salary.
But remember; I referred to the public aspect of negotiations above. The public component goes on in every negotiation and it mostly serves to prep the battlefield in what is likely to become part of a bigger public relations battle that is undeniably a part of the real negotiations that go on behind closed doors.
So, as Florio suggests, "The real question is whether the Cowboys buy it."
By recently showing up to work out with the team, Florio added, "Bryant came off as a guy who ultimately can't stay away from the game. It now could be much harder to persuade the Cowboys that he's serious about staying away from the team and giving up more than $750,000 per week."
We'll all be watching for more.