Dez Bryant ranks among the NFL's elite wide receivers and still has enough talent to make another jump up the leaderboard.
Coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and leading the NFL in touchdown receptions (25) the past two seasons, the Cowboys receiver believes he's earned the right to be paid like one of the top pass-catchers.
"Yeah, I deserve it," Bryant told ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon. "I deserve it. I feel like I do. I put the work in, but I let that kind of stuff take care of itself. It is what it is. I let my agent talk about it and give me some feedback."
Bryant hopes an extension comes before the upcoming season, and NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday night that the Cowboys and agent Eugene Parker have had very preliminary talks. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Bryant is excruciatingly underpaid compared to his output. He is scheduled to make $1.78 million and a $250,000 workout bonus.
A team source told Rapoport the Cowboys are not against extending Bryant before the deal expires. He came to Dallas with off-the-field questions, and the view within the team is that he is improving and maturing but is not yet a finished product. Per Rapoport, the Cowboys are encouraged, but would like more time to see Bryant continue on this path.
The question is where in the pecking order, in terms of money, Bryant views himself.
Brandon Marshall just signed a three-year, $30 million extension with the Bears. Six other players make average salaries north of $10 million per season. Notable names include Mike Wallace ($12 million per), Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson (both north of $16 million per).
While Bryant wants an extension, at this point he doesn't sound as if he'll hold Jerry Jones' feet to the fire to get every penny.
"I'm loyal to the squad," Bryant said. "I've always been. Me and my agent are going to talk about (a hometown discount). We'll talk about it. You know, this is big. This is life-changing. Like I said, I've done everything asked of me, and we'll see what happens."