This one is bizarre, even by Oakland Raiders standards.
The Raiders reportedly are close to a deal with wide receiver Martavis Bryant, days after releasing the wide receiver who is reportedly facing a substance-abuse ban from the NFL.
Report: Martavis Bryant expected to play this week
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the news and added that the team expects him to play this week.
The #Raiders and Martavis Bryant are closing in on a 1-year deal — and barring any hiccup, he's expected to play this week, per team source. Not officially signed yet, but they called him this morning and it's expected to get done today. Quite the twist.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 11, 2018
Bryant spoke with ESPN after reports of the imminent deal.
“I am just thankful and happy and excited for this weekend and the opportunity to take care of my family,” Bryant said. “It will not be taken for granted.”
Bryant reportedly facing third substance-abuse ban
The Raiders released Bryant on Sept. 1, four months after trading a third-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the talented wideout who had twice been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Bryant missed the first four games of the 2015 season and was suspended for the entire 2016 season. He spent time during his 2016 ban at a Las Vegas rehab facility.
At the time of his release from the Raiders, there were reports that he was facing a third substance-abuse ban. Despite wasting a third-round pick on a player they cut before the season started, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said he did not regret the deal.
Jon Gruden: No regrets trading for Bryant
“I think the guy is a superb talent,” Gruden said after Bryant was released. “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. We’ll be criticized for that. But it was a risk that was well worth taken.”
Talent that can’t play, of course, has no value in the NFL.
After he was released, ESPN reported that Bryant’s pending suspension would likely be for a full year.
Peliserro notes that Bryant is eligible to play until the suspension process plays out, which means he could play next week, barring more news on that front.
Raiders offense struggled in opener
The Raiders offense shut down in the second half of Monday’s 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams and could use the talents of an athletic, playmaking receiver like Bryant.
In 36 career games, the 6-4, 26-year-old has tallied 126 catches for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Maybe the Raiders know something about Bryant’s status that’s not being reported. Or maybe the Raiders are just being the Raiders.
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