The bad news coming out of New Orleans on Friday turned out to be true. Dez Bryant did tear an Achilles’ tendon, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Bryant’s rehab timeline is tentatively set at eight months, per Schefter.
The Saints are placing their recently acquired wide receiver on IR, per Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). They will end up promoting a wideout from their practice squad, with Underhill tweeting Keith Kirkwood will make the move up to the 53-man roster. This move was expected prior to Bryant’s injury, per Underhill (on Twitter).
New Orleans previously housed only three healthy wideouts — Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith and Austin Carr. Bryant, who was a member of this healthy contingent for less than two days, joins Ted Ginn, Tommylee Lewis and Cameron Meredith on the Saints’ IR list. Although, Lewis has resumed practicing and could be activated soon.
This development, interestingly, shouldn’t affect the Saints too much, which is rare for a sequence featuring a high-profile player going down. They’ve won seven straight games and were betting Bryant could provide a boost of some sort. But the Saints have a top-10 offense that will take the field in Cincinnati featuring the same cast that spearheaded a 45-35 win over the Rams last week.
Bryant’s trajectory, obviously, has been significantly altered after going down on the final play of his second Saints practice.
Instead of going into free agency on the heels of being a cog in a Drew Brees-led passing attack, he’ll have a months-long rehab effort to complete before being ready to contribute again. He won’t be ready by the time the new league year begins and may have to wait deep into the 2019 offseason to sign.
Bryant’s most recent work sample, a 16-game season with the 2017 Cowboys, featured his fewest yards per game (52.4) since his rookie season. This injury certainly won’t have teams aggressively pursuing him. It’s a brutal blow for a player who spent months as an outspoken free agent and one who hoped to have a better shot at cashing in next year.
Kirkwood has yet to play an NFL down. He played at Hawaii and Temple from 2013-17, finishing his career with back-to-back 600-yard receiving seasons, totaling 11 aerial touchdowns in those years.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.