Jerry Jones' son calls Dez Bryant a 'distraction'


Over the past few weeks, Dez Bryant has become the source of controversy within The Star at Frisco without the receiver even saying a word.

First fellow Cowboys receiver Brice Butler went on FS1 and proclaimed that he would have been more productive than Bryant was this past year had the Cowboys given him more opportunities.

Then former Cowboy Terrell Owens, no stranger to controversy himself, said Bryant has turned people within the organization against him because of his attitude. TO also said Bryant doesn’t look motivated to play for coach Jason Garrett.

Now a team executive is calling out the wide receiver.

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Stephen Jones, who is the team’s CEO and son of Jerry Jones, appeared on a Cowboys podcast and criticized Bryant, saying the receiver’s combustible personality “can be a distraction” for the team.

“It’s certainly visible to anyone who watches our games,” Jones said on “Hangin’ with the ‘Boys.” “Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field. Sometimes, that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. We just have to really get our hands around when you put all the full body of work together where that’s headed.”

Bryant’s passion is part of what made him a great receiver, but that same passion can be viewed as a distraction if he’s not performing up to his usual standards.

From 2012 to 2014, Bryant ranked first in receiving touchdowns and fifth in receiving yards.

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But from 2015 to 2017, he ranked 21st in receiving touchdowns and 43rd in receiving yards.

Part of Bryant’s decrease in production is the quarterback change from Tony Romo to Dak Prescott. Stephen Jones admitted as much, saying Prescott and Bryant still have to work on their connection.

“Tony certainly his game, they kind of tailored it to one another,” Jones said. “And then when Dak came in, he’s certainly not going to play the game exactly like Tony played the game. I think it hasn’t ever just quite hit on all cylinders yet in terms of how Dak and Dez, the connection works. I think it’s a work in progress. I think it could improve if given the opportunity.”

Those last two sentences should give hope to Cowboys fans who want Bryant to return next season. Bryant is due $12.5 million in 2018, which is the third-most among all wide receivers. There has been speculation that the Cowboys could ask for Bryant to take a pay cut, but he shot down that thought in December.

Jones is not only the team’s CEO, but he is also the director of player personnel, so he has as much power within the Cowboys organization as anyone outside of his father. He intimated that the Cowboys will look long and hard to see if Bryant’s production justifies his salary.

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“Of course we pay Dez a lot of money, and he knows that,” said Stephen Jones. “He’s as aware of it as anybody. … He knows when you get paid that kind of money there’s high expectations in terms of the productivity. … Those are all things we have to look at as a team, as an organization when we start to put our team together for next year.”

Bryant has already received all of the guaranteed money from his contract, so the Cowboys can choose to move on from him without penalty.

He is scheduled to make $12.5 million in each of the next two seasons but will count $16.5 million against the salary cap in each year. Dallas can save $8.5 million if they release him or save $12 million if they designate him a post-June 1 cap casualty.

It’s clear that Stephen Jones is leaning in a certain direction when it comes to Bryant’s future in Dallas, but the final decision will be Jerry Jones’ — and he has shown a fondness for his declining receiver.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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