Dez Bryant hasn't played in the NFL since the 2017 season, when he was the Dallas Cowboys' leading receiver.
The Cowboys cut him after that season, and it wasn't until more than halfway into the 2018 season when the New Orleans Saints signed the three-time Pro Bowl wideout. Before he could play a game with the Saints, however, Bryant tore his Achilles in practice. He hasn't been on an NFL team since then.
Now he's back.
The Baltimore Ravens signed Bryant, 31, on Tuesday to its practice squad. It seems like an odd place to stick someone who was not too long ago one of the best receivers in football, and who isn't very old. And it's not like the Ravens are loaded at the position -- they've struggled to find consistent playmakers this season outside of their quarterback and reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson.
Through Week 7, Baltimore's wide receivers rank 32nd in the league in receptions (58) and receiving yards (737).
The Ravens were rumored to be one of the teams interested in signing Antonio Brown, another former All-Pro receiver who had been out of the league for a while. Antonio Brown's cousin, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, is the Ravens' most productive receiver. But Antonio Brown decided to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Ravens turned to Bryant.
How does Dez Bryant help the Ravens?
Style-wise, Bryant is less of a big-play gamebreaker and more of a possession receiver. He can go across the middle and get tough catches in traffic. That can open things up for Hollywood Brown, who's more of the home-run hitter type of wideout.
Unlike Antonio Brown, who was driven out of the game due to legal and serious behavioral issues, Bryant's absence was more baffling.
He had some minor clashes with the Cowboys, but he wasn't exactly a known toxic presence. And after recovering from the Achilles tear, Bryant appeared to be in good enough shape to play somewhere. Teams just weren't giving him a chance.
Even now, while Antonio Brown will probably be slotted right into the Bucs' starting lineup, Bryant has to work his way up from the practice squad with undrafted rookies and NFL journeymen.
The Ravens don't look as strong as they did last season when they were the AFC's No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, but they are doing well at 5-1. They just need a boost offensively to complement their traditionally strong defense.Published 28 Oct 2020, 12:29 IST