Dez Bryant’s visit with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday ended without the two sides coming to an agreement on a contract.
On Saturday, the Browns’ need for Bryant might have evaporated.
Josh Gordon, who once led the NFL in receiving yards but has barely played since due to suspensions, announced he is returning to the Browns. Right before training camp he announced he was not going to be with the team for ambiguous reasons related to his well-being. The Browns didn’t seem to know for sure when Gordon would return, as seen on “Hard Knocks.” Perhaps that was a factor in their interest in Bryant.
With Gordon back, hopefully for good, where does that leave Bryant?
Josh Gordon’s return could lessen Cleveland’s need for Dez Bryant
It was a little surprising the Browns and Bryant didn’t come to an agreement on a deal. You wouldn’t figure either side would waste time on a visit in mid-August if there wasn’t real interest.
Bryant is in a weird spot. He was cut by the Dallas Cowboys well into free agency, which was a disservice to the team’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. Since he was let go in April, we’ve waited for Bryant to land somewhere. He’s not the player he was a few years ago, but he’s still a starting-level receiver. Still, there hasn’t been a lot of publicly reported interest.
And as the wait has now lasted through about half of the preseason, Bryant’s options get more limited. The Browns had the most public interest since Bryant turned down a three-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens. While Gordon isn’t exactly reliable and the Browns should still be interested in adding talented players, it becomes harder to see how Bryant would fit with them now that Gordon is back.
Gordon’s return is great news, but comes with other questions
Just because Gordon is back doesn’t mean there are no more concerns. Gordon announced he’d be back with the Browns via social media on Saturday.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reported the league hasn’t cleared Gordon to practice. He is in the substance abuse program and has to meet some conditions, an NFL spokesperson told Pelissero, with “no timetable on the next step.” We’ve been through this dance before with Gordon and the NFL, so that’s a bit concerning.
Also, there’s the issue of Gordon being unreliable. He has played 10 games over the last four seasons due to various suspensions. Gordon leaving the team right before camp was alarming. Cleveland can be happy he’s back and still not bank on him playing 16 games.
Still, a building team with young talent like Gordon, Jarvis Landry, rookie Antonio Callaway and second-year tight end David Njoku doesn’t really seem like it would need Bryant that much.
Where will Bryant land?
While Bryant left Cleveland on Friday without a deal, it seemed the two sides enjoyed the talks.
“I think it was a good visit,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said after Friday’s preseason game, according to Cleveland.com. “But at the same time, he’s not on our team, so I’m going to worry about the guys that are here.”
Bryant had good things to say too.
“I’m happy to be here, you know excited, you know just trying to work out some things,” Bryant said, according to Cleveland.com.
But he doesn’t have a contract. If Bryant doesn’t sign with the Browns, it’s hard to figure out where he’ll land. Bryant might be to the point where he has to wait for an injury to a receiver on a contender to get on a roster. Whoever signs Bryant has to assume he won’t play at all this preseason, and it might take him time during the regular season to get back up to speed. That complicates matters.
With Saturday morning news on Gordon, it gets even tougher to figure out how Bryant’s drawn-out free agency story will end.
– – – – – – –