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Dez mum on taking pay cut, vows to shut people up

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As free agency approaches and the Dallas Cowboys prepare to make "tough" decisions, questions surrounding the fate of Dez Bryant abound. Will the Cowboys cut the declining wide receiver? Could Bryant take a pay cut? Can Dez ever return to his All-Pro form?

Finally, on Friday, it was Bryant's turn to respond.

In a wide-ranging, 20-minute interview on 105.3 The Fan on Friday, Bryant passionately professed his love for Dallas and the Cowboys organization and vowed to get his fitness "back right" for the 2018 season. However, the 29-year-old receiver declined to say whether he would take a pay cut if Dallas was to approach him about it.

"I haven't heard a word on that," Dez said about potentially negotiating a pay cut. "I'm just controlling the things I can control. I have yet to talk to my agent about anything."

Bryant is owed $16.5 million in 2018, the third-largest cap hit among wide receivers in the league. In years past, he would absolutely be worth that massive investment. However, Bryant is coming off three consecutive injury-riddled seasons in which he hasn't broken the 1,000-yard or 10-touchdown barrier. Last season, Bryant averaged a career-low 12.1 yards per reception. Hence, the pay-cut talk.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have played good cop-bad cop regarding Dez's contract, with the younger Jones saying Thursday, "This is a business where everybody has to be accountable."

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday that Dallas might attempt to lower Bryant's cap number by offering a mini-extension, which would kill two birds with one stone: keep a fan favorite and career Cowboy in the building, and open up 2018 cap space, potentially for taggable Demarcus Lawrence, in the process. But there's been no progress on that front yet.

The Cowboys receiver refused to make excuses Friday for his declining metrics, saying of last season, "I feel like I did damn good. This game is more than the stats. I feel like I ran good." However, Bryant did intimate that more was going on behind the scenes that kept him from playing his best.

"There was a lot of plays left out on the field because of me," Bryant admitted, "and because I let my thoughts in my head get in the way."

When confronted with questions about the chemistry between second-year quarterback Dak Prescott and him, Bryant guaranteed they are "100-percent fine."

"I guarantee you, man," Bryant added of Prescott, "he's got a big chip on his shoulder just like I do.'

Bryant repeatedly reinforced his love and appreciation for the Cowboys organization and his willingness to stay with the franchise long enough to bring a Super Bowl back to North Texas, telling The Fan, "I really give a damn about Dallas."

When asked whether he could envision wearing "the eights" in any jersey other than Dallas', Bryant responded, "No. Hell no! It doesn't seem right, it wouldn't be right."

Sentimentality typically flies out the window during contract and pay-cut negotiations, but as Bryant's interview Friday made clear, the wideout is taking talk of his potential departure personally.

"I promise you," Bryant said, "I'm going to shut a lot of people up."

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