WR Martavis Bryant signing 1-year deal with Raiders

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Martavis Bryant is re-signing with the Oakland Raiders, who previously released the veteran receiver on roster cut-down day with concerns about a possible league-imposed suspension.

"I am just thankful and happy and excited for this weekend and the opportunity to take care of my family; it will not be taken for granted," Bryant told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

A source told Graziano that Bryant and the Raiders discussed potentially re-signing him at the time of his release and that Bryant is still in "wait-and-see mode" with regard to a potential suspension.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden had grown increasingly impatient with Bryant's lack of versatility in the playbook and missed practice time in training camp due to headaches.

"We expected more from him," Gruden said Sept. 2, the day after initial 53-man rosters were turned in. "Perhaps we get Martavis again next year and we can get the best out of him."

Raiders receivers were shut down in Monday night's 33-13 season-opening home loss to the Los Angeles Rams, with Amari Cooper catching one pass on three targets for 9 yards and Jordy Nelson getting three receptions on four targets for 23 yards. Oakland was in need of a deep threat, though quarterback Derek Carr was under duress.

The Raiders play at the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that Bryant is facing a yearlong ban for his latest violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. The NFL is reviewing the matter and could issue its ruling as early as this week, a source told Schefter.

ESPN reported earlier this month that Bryant violated the league's drug policy at some point during the offseason.

Bryant's latest setback factored into the Raiders' decision to cut him just four months after they traded a third-round draft pick (79th overall) to the Pittsburgh Steelers to acquire the talented, troubled receiver.

Gruden was asked if giving up a third-round pick was perhaps a miscalculation.

"I don't think so," he said. "I think the guy is a superb talent. The guy has great talent. We released our second-round draft choice last year and the year before and the year before that. Not everything is a perfect science, but we'll be criticized for that. It was a risk I thought well worth taking."

Bryant, 26, was suspended for the entire 2016 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but he returned to haul in 50 receptions for 603 yards and three touchdowns last season.

Late in training camp, Gruden gave Bryant a nickname to show his exasperation with the fifth-year wideout, who had just finished a strong practice.

"We're calling Martavis the white tiger," Gruden said. "I used to go to Busch Gardens in Tampa ... and they've got a white tiger. You go 12 times or 13 times, the white tiger was always in his cage. But the white tiger came out today. Bryant came out.

"I don't know if you get that analogy, but sometimes he comes out to play and sometimes he doesn't. It's good to see him because he's really special, like the white tiger."