It is thanks to some good fortune and a lot of patience that, here with NFL Week 14 just behind us, the Dallas Cowboys are doing just fine on the wide receiver depth chart. CeeDee Lamb has been the star leading man the team needs, Brandin Cooks has gotten his footing as the No. 2, and the team is comfortable with Michael Gallup or Jalen Tolbert as No. 3. One of the Cowboys’ midseason signings—comeback veteran Martavis Bryant—has not come off the practice squad because he has not been needed.
But with a month now back in the NFL after the commissioner ended his suspension, it is possible that a desperate outside team could look to make a move on Bryant, a one-time star with the Steelers and Raiders until substance abuse caused him to be suspended in late 2018, causing him to miss four seasons.
At Bleacher Report, they’ve got an AFC playoff possibility perhaps having eyes for Bryant. The site is urging the Chargers, who are hurting at the wide-receiver spot as they try to overcome impossible odds and sneak into the postseason with a 5-8 record, to sign Martavis Bryant off the Cowboys practice squad.
Martavis Bryant Signing a ‘Desperation Move’
Martavis Bryant will turn 32 this week as a member of the Cowboys, and has not played in an NFL game in five years. But that is an indication of how desperate things are for the Chargers.
Here’s how B/R sees it:
“The Chargers have sorely missed wideouts Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer this season. Keenan Allen has been phenomenal, but rookie Quentin Johnston is a work in progress, and the depth behind them isn’t great.
“At this point, the Chargers can afford to make a desperation move. Martavis Bryant hasn’t played since 2018, but the 6’4″, 210-pound vertical threat is still on the Cowboys practice squad and could be worth a look.”
Indeed, at his best, Bryant was a game-breaking wideout. He caught 76 passes and logged 14 touchdowns, including plays of 94 and 88 yards, in his first two eye-opening seasons in Pittsburgh, after he was a fourth-round pick out of Clemson.
But he struggled to stay away from substance abuse, and after multiple suspensions, the league finally gave him an indefinite suspension in 2018, while he was playing for the Raiders.
‘Really Dark Places’ Before Cowboys
When Martavis Bryant first arrived with the Cowboys last month, he was asked where the suspension took him in the past five years.
“To places you can’t even imagine, man, some really dark places and times,” he said. “I really would not like to talk about it, you know, because I worked so hard to get through those moments. But it was a dark time for me.”
But he put in the work on staying sober and toiling through low-level leagues that were not NFL-caliber—the Arena League and the XFL. His Arena League experiment was short-lived. He did not much like the fact that as a receiver, you can run into a wall when going out of bounds.
“I started in the Arena Football League, it was different for me. I ran into the wall so I had to give it up, I was like, I can’t do this,” he said.
After a stint in the XFL, Bryant said, he first had to clear a path to a return through Roger Goodell’s NFL office. That involved a trove of meetings, as well as a focus on his sobriety. But he managed to get back into the NFL.
“I had a process I had to go through, steps I had to do, maintaining my sobriety,” Bryant explained. “Meeting with my counselor. Doing the things I was supposed to do to show that I changed. I put the work in, man, and I’m proud of that. First off, it started with the NFL, I had to go through six months of testing, you know, counselors, doing a lot of things they asked me to do.”
The next step for Martavis Bryant would be a 53-man roster. If not with the Cowboys, then with someone.