We've spoken quite a bit recently regarding the team's signing of Antonio Bryant. Do you really blame us? It's not every day that the Bengals sign someone for $28 million. And it's not every day that a writer says, the "Bengals, one of the cheapest organizations in the history of the National Football League, paid the man." Thank you very much.
My initial reaction was that the signing was a risk. But like most risks, there's great rewards. More simplified, it's the argument that says if it goes bad, it could go really bad but if it goes good, it could go really good. B. Clifton Burke spoke how signing Bryant will greatly help the Bengals offense.
Truth be told, I have limited knowledge of Bryant. I know the name. I know the teams he's played for. I've read some of the scouting reports -- which is one big snooze-fest because they're simply a combination of one-word descriptions that holds little context. I needed the help of YouTube just to remember that sweet one-handed reception at the back of the endzone. Other than that, the blinders that only allows me to focus on the Bengals, assure me that my universal knowledge of 1600-plus players in the league would be, at best, limited.
"When Antonio Bryant first came to Tampa Bay, our fans thought he was going to be nothing more than another David Boston; an out of sorts wide receiver trying to get his career back together," Niko remembers. "Boston got a DUI during preseason and was gone by week one."
Oddly enough, Bryant's introduction in Cincinnati had many calling him the new Laveranues Coles, mostly due to the lack of recent production against the cost to obtain the player. It's an unqualified comparison, but can you blame a fanbase that wants the best, only the best, and everything is else is scratch, sloppy seconds, or even, dare I say, not worry of our written word? A little melodramatic, aren't we? OK, it wasn't that bad. But the focus was on Terrell Owens and Brandon Marshall and Bryant kind of became that third-and-final option.
"However Jon Gruden used his new toy regularly as Joey Galloway spent the whole preseason battling an injury. Bryant took over Galloway's spot, and was heavilly favored in the offense run by Jeff Garcia. Bryant is SERIOUSLY TALENTED! (his caps, not mine). Remember that one handed catch on MNF vs the Panthers?"
While Niko recaps Bryant's successful 2008 season, the issue of what happened in 2009 tends to resonate. Were there internal issues? Can Bryant be trusted? Talent is one thing, but can he work with this team for the greater good? What happened in 2009?
"Last year, Bryant had the injury bug. It bothered him all year, plus we had three QBs play last year, the last one our new franchise quarterback Josh Freeman. No one knew if Bryant would return or not. When he was released with the excuse that we wanted to go younger, many of us wondered what was up with that; twenty-nine isn't that old. Then we started to hear words that he quit on his routes or ran wrong routes, etc.. He also complained publicly about his use.
"He was not trouble in 2008, but he was a little in 2009. So I would say if he gets his share of passes, he will be happy and VERY VERY productive with Ochocinco. You guys may have a serious offense next year. But the Bucs clearly did not want to go with him while developing a quarterback for the next decade, for whatever reason. Some fans here are upset he is gone."
I think all things considered, after speaking with Niko, after sitting back and just absorbing it all, the Bengals made a good choice signing Bryant because of his talent. And I'm confident that the Bengals have enough pieces in place that they can help disspell internal issues before they surface, unlike before. And since the Bengals have nowhere to go but north when it comes to the passing offense, I'm sure that Bryant will be a happy cat with the contributions that will go his way.