Beginning what will likely be a season-long tug of war, the Dallas Cowboys have placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant, preventing the best offensive player from hitting the market this spring, the team announced.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reported that the tag is non-exclusive, per a source who's seen the paperwork. This means that Bryant can negotiate with other teams, and the Cowboys have the right to match any offer, or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
The enigmatic pass catcher is invaluable to Dallas' offense, having supplied 273 receptions for 3,935 yards and 41 touchdowns over the last three years, though talent was never the major question.
As Rapoport noted, mounting off-field concerns have more to do with Monday's measure than anything else.
Owner Jerry Jones will want to ensure that Bryant can remain clean off the field and continue to ascend in his own locker room.
Like Demaryius Thomas, who was tagged by the Broncos, Bryant's $12.823 million price tag represents an incredible savings, especially with an offensively-starved free agent market.
Bryant, fairly or unfairly, will need to take one on the chin this season in order to prove that he's long-term material for the Cowboys.
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