The Dallas Cowboys are coming into the offseason with Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray as their top free agent priorities and while the team plans on signing both players, Jerry Jones could also target other players this winter, including names like Frank Gore, Nick Fairley, Mark Ingram, Byron Maxwell, Brian Orakpo, Walter Thurmond, Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson and Bryan Bulaga.
The Cowboys have a tight salary cap situation to start the offseason, but they have the chance to clear some space with a few moves when the league year begins. Jones spoke at length following the conclusion of the season about the desire to sign back Bryant and Murray and all signs point to Bryant being the priority this offseason. According to the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys are considering using the franchise tag on Bryant, as executive VP Stephen Jones said that the team is "leaning" towards that option.
The franchise tag would allow the Cowboys to work out a deal with Bryant, although earlier in the season the wide receiver said he would not be happy if the team went that route. According to the Dallas Morning News, Bryant said last year that he would be "highly disappointed" if the team used the franchise tag on him. There have been some stories about a video involving Bryant, with Deadspin.com reporting on some comments that Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said while on the radio.
According to Deadspin.com, Florio spoke on 105.3 The Fan and spoke about a video involving Bryant, saying that it is known among "major insiders" that it exists, but no one has been able to obtain it. Florio added that the video could have a "Ray Rice-type of an impact" and that could be part of the reason why the team is thinking about using the franchise tag. While Bryant has been a good citizen in Dallas over the past year or two, he has had issues off the field in the past and this could be a way for the Cowboys to give themselves some security.
Bryant tweeted out a typed note on his phone that said "quit with the BS" and mentioned that he wasn't "ashamed of past incidents" and while he did not refer explicitly to the video rumors, it likely was about that. Either way, Bryant has put up some fantastic numbers over the past three years and he is key for the Cowboys moving forward. The Cowboys will have about $20 million in cap space and they could create some more if they restructure Tony Romo's deal.
The Cowboys are likely to keep Bryant and there is a chance that Murray could end up leaving if he doesn't get enough money from Dallas. The team has other options on the market, including Frank Gore and Mark Ingram, while Adrian Peterson could be on his way out with the Vikings and if that happens, he will be a target for Jones. Nick Fairley could be an option if the Lions keep Ndamukong Suh, while Byron Maxwell or Walter Thurmond could be free agent options at corner if the team lets go of Brandon Carr and his high salary.