Jerry Jones doesn't waste much time booking acts for his billion-dollar stadium once his Cowboys inevitably choke out of contention. This year’s no different: it looks like the circus is headed for Dallas soon.

What could be more big-tent than trotting out a team exec to tell your most important free agent, through the media, that he’ll likely be slapped with the franchise tag for next season. “Hey, Dez. Hope you’re watching, but if not, somebody do me a favor and tell this guy he ain't leaving no time soon, and he ain't getting a new contract anytime soon, either. Hi, mom!”

Bring on the clowns. Be dazzled by Jerry the Master Magician’s ability to turn a finally-functional football team to mud with the snap of his fingers!

Based on his Twitter timeline, Dez isn't much of a circus fan.



I wouldn't take my kids to see this circus either. It’s long been in the best interest of the Cowboys to play both sides of the fence with Bryant: draft a much-needed, explosive wideout to help Tony Romo overcome his chronic inconsistency, but keep up the charade that his mother’s problems, his father’s problems, even the guys who broke into his crib, are all a manifestation of ‘character issues’. What that phrase has always translated to in the NFL is an excuse for talented players to go underpaid. And so begins the public discussion of why giving Dez a long-term deal is risky for the Cowboys. After putting up the best statistical year of his career and helping lead the ‘Boys back to the postseason, Bryant, is sure to be looking for a lucrative long-term deal. Questions -- mostly illegitimate ones -- still abound about his character: a long-term deal for Dez is an actuarial risk that the Cowboys can only abate with a franchise tag. Doing anything else is putting the franchise on the hook for a player who might cost the team by doing something stupid off the field.  

It’s the flimsiest, slimiest argument to make. Somebody needs to clean up behind these elephants. It stinks in here.

The only thing Dez Bryant has done since joining the Cowboys is obliterate team records and helped prop up an aging, ailing and still-mistake-prone Romo. Last year he made 16 TD grabs, a record on a team whose receiver lineage includes Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. At 26, there’s next to no chance he’s past his prime or that, barring injury (more likely Romo's than his), his production would fall off over the length of his next deal. And despite all the talk about character, Bryant hasn't done a damn thing in his career to hurt the team. Personal conduct policy violations: zero. Fines? Zilch.

The only legit reason for the Cowboys to worry about handing a long-term deal to Bryant this year is because they've also got to think about locking up DeMarco Murray, who last year emerged as one of the best backs in football. Murray’s a year older than Dez, and more to the point, it’s harder to reduce his value by making a sham argument about his character through the media. The Cowboys desperately want to keep both players on lock in hopes they’ll continue to prop up Romo for a few more years. And so Dez, once again, has to suffer -- this time where it counts.

Anybody cleaned up behind those elephants yet?