The Cincinnati Bengals receiving corps got a little more explosive and volatile at the same time with the signing of free agent Antonio Bryant
The up-and-down career of receiver Antonio Bryant took a new turn as the unrestricted free agent agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal reportedly is a four-year deal worth $28 Million. Bryant (6-1, 205) will be counted on by the AFC North Champions to compliment star receiver Chad Ochocinco while trying to replace the recently jettisoned Laveranues Coles.
A former second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, Bryant has bounced around the NFL and at times has been his own worst enemy. He was suspended for the entire 2007 season for missing a scheduled drug test and later failing a test. Plus he has been known to be a lockerroom malcontent as shown by run-ins with former head coaches Bill Parcels (Cowboys) and Mike Nolan (Niners). The Bengals will be the former University of Pittsburgh star’s fifth team and it will be interesting to see how he fits in Marvin Lewis’ lockerroom of characters including other former off-the-field problem players WR Matt Jones, DT Tank Johnson, and DE Frostee Rucker.
However when focused, the former Biletnikoff award winner (2000) can be a top receiver as shown by his huge comeback season for the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2008. During that season, Bryant set career-highs with 83 receptions, 1,248 yards and 7 touchdowns, which prompted the Bucs to designate him as their franchise player in for 2009. Bryant was paid handsomely last season to the tune of $9.844 million dollars, but he never lived-up to No. 1 receiver expectations due to nagging injuries that limited him to 13 games played — 39 receptions for 600 yards and four touchdowns.
After a season of struggles, the Bucs decided to allow Bryant to enter the free agent market. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals’ new look receiving corps featuring Bryant, Jones, Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell will be able to help Cincinnati’s 26th ranked passing offense overcome the tragic death of receiver Chris Henry. For his 8-year career, Bryant has 372 receptions for 5,685 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)