Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant Permitted To Play During Appeal Of Suspension

Although we have not heard an official announcement from the NFL, it appears that Raiders WR Martavis Bryant has indeed been handed a one-year suspension for allegedly violating the league’s substance-abuse policy (we heard last week that Bryant was facing such a ban). However, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that Bryant has appealed the suspension, and the NFL will allow him to play until it makes a decision on the appeal.

Just two days after we learned that Bryant was staring at another suspension, the Raiders re-signed the talented but troubled receiver, whom they cut on September 1. Oakland, which traded a third-round pick to the Steelers to acquire Bryant during this year’s draft, would like to get something of a return on its investment, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano tweets that the Raiders were comfortable with bringing Bryant back into the fold because it will take a little while for the NFL to rule on his appeal (it also helps that Bryant’s contract pays him on a week-to-week basis).

The appeal is expected to be heard within the next couple of weeks, which could buy Bryant a few games on the Raiders’ roster. Of course, if the appeal is resolved in Bryant’s favor, he could spend the entire year on the roster, which would go a long way towards getting his NFL career back on track.

Schefter reports that Bryant’s camp is confident in his chances to win the appeal, and Graziano says Bryant has retained New York attorney Peter Ginsberg to represent him in the process. For now, Bryant will slot into a receiver group that includes Amari CooperJordy NelsonSeth Roberts, and Brandon LaFell.

The Raiders take on the division-rival Broncos later this afternoon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Ravens, Bengals, Bills

The Raiders surprisingly re-signed wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this week after initially waiving him at final cutdowns, and head coach Jon Gruden is optimistic on Bryant’s chances to contribute, as Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. “He’s in a good place right now,” Gruden said. “I think he’s healthy. I think he’s ready to go. We’re sold on that. We’ve been in contact with him since he has been away. I’ve said it before: when he’s right, he can be a difference maker and we’re hoping he can be one sooner rather than later.”

Bryant is reportedly facing a yearlong suspension after another alleged violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he’s eligible to play until the league formally announces a ban. Indeed, Bryant is expected to suit up for the Raiders when they face the Broncos on Sunday. Bryant didn’t take any sort of pay cut to return to Oakland, as he’ll collect the same $1.907MM (prorated) salary he was originally due, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Linebacker C.J. Mosley did not suffer any ligament damage in the Ravens‘ Thursday night loss to the Bengals, head coach John Harbaugh told reporters, including Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (Twitter link). While Mosley may miss Baltimore’s Week 3 contest against Denver, Harbaugh doesn’t think Mosley is facing a long-term absence. For what it’s worth, the Ravens announced Mosley had a bone bruise when he left last night’s game. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes, Mosley has arguably become Baltimore’s most indispensable defender, so the Ravens will be hard-pressed to replace him for any period of time. Mosley, 26, is currently playing out the final year of his contract, but he hadn’t progressed on an extension with the Ravens as of July.
  • Elsewhere from Thursday night’s game, Bengals center Billy Price suffered a foot sprain, according to head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link via Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer). The injury doesn’t sound all that serious, as Lewis indicated he was “surprised” Price wasn’t cleared to return to Cincinnati’s eventual victory. Price, the 21st overall selection in this year’s draft, was part of a Bengals offensive line overhaul that also included the acquisition of left tackle Cordy Glenn. If Price is forced to miss action, he’ll be replaced by reserve Trey Hopkins, who started 12 games for Cincinnati in 2017.
  • The Bills will start first-round rookie Josh Allen at quarterback on Sunday after Nathan Peterman and the rest of Buffalo’s offense was thrashed by Baltimore in Week 1, leading Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com to examine whether deploying Allen this early in the season is the correct decision. Allen won’t be forced to face Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, but the Los Angeles defense will certainly present a challenge for the Wyoming product.

West Rumors: Prosise, Cards, Rams, Raiders

After a promising flash as a rookie, C.J. Prosise has not contributed much to the Seahawks‘ cause. He’s picked up 17 touches since December 2016 and is behind Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Mike Davis on the Seattle running back depth chart. However, the team is discussing a position change for the third-year back. Pete Carroll said (via Pro Football Talk) his coaching staff is examining a possible Prosise switch to wide receiver, citing his background at the position in college. Prosise was a wideout at Notre Dame before being switched to the backfield. He caught 29 passes for 516 yards in 2014. The Seahawks are down Doug Baldwin for perhaps multiple weeks, and they have just four healthy wide receivers.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to a running back who is also quite adept at the receiver role.

  • David Johnson is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back, holding a substantial lead over the No. 3 player in this hierarchy, and ranks close to the top in terms of fully guaranteed money, too. Johnson’s three-year, $39MM Cardinals extension will come with $24.682MM fully guaranteed at signing, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. Adding in the amount guaranteed for injury increases the deal’s guarantees to $31MM, per Corry, who adds offset language is included in this contract. Johnson’s $24MM-plus full guarantee leads all running backs on veteran contracts, surpassing Todd Gurley‘s $21.9MM in guarantees.
  • Martavis Bryant is indeed back with the Raiders, as Jon Gruden suggested he could be. An illness and general inconsistency during camp led to Bryant being a preseason cut, Gruden said (via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic, on Twitter). Gruden said the perpetual suspension risk, who may or may not be facing another ban, is more focused and may suit up for the team on Sunday in Denver.
  • In addition to the Raiders’ interest in signing top free agent Johnathan Hankins, Gruden said they’re also interested in adding Clinton McDonald, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Hankins is visiting the Raiders on Wednesday. The Broncos released McDonald after the preseason slate. If signed, McDonald would add yet another 30-something to Gruden’s free agency haul. He’s 31.
  • The Raiders are in need of help at defensive tackle because of a Justin Ellis injury. The fifth-year veteran defensive tackle strained ligaments in his foot, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. He’s week-to-week, prompting Oakland to pursue outside help.
  • Adam Jones signed with the Broncos late in the preseason, appearing to represent an upgrade at punt returner and No. 4 cornerback. However, the 35-year-old defender appears to have usurped Tramaine Brock for the nickel job, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes. Brock didn’t fare poorly in the preseason and graded as an upper-echelon corner during his last season of full-time work, with the 2016 49ers, but Jones has more experience in Vance Joseph‘s defense from their time together in Cincinnati. If he’s been demoted, it would mark a second straight season the 30-year-old defender’s resided out of a nickel picture. The Vikings carried Brock as a depth piece in 2017.
  • The Rams are going to need a new return man. Pharoh Cooper suffered an ankle injury and will be out for “some time,” Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. Backup return man Michael Thomas is out for a few weeks, Sean McVay said, to prompt Los Angeles to seek alternative options. Cooper served as the Rams’ kick- and punt-return man last season, soaring to All-Pro honors.

Raiders Re-Sign WR Martavis Bryant

The Raiders are re-signing free agent Martavis Bryant to a one-year deal, per Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link) first reported Bryant was nearing a deal with Oakland, while Mike Garafolo (Twitter link) first noted Bryant was back in the Raiders’ facility.

Bryant is reportedly facing a year-long suspension after once again violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but nothing official has yet been announced on that front. As such, Bryant is eligible to sign and play until the league formally bans him.

Bryant is expected to play on Sunday, according to Pelissero, which would represent quite the turnaround for the 26-year-old pass-catcher. For now, he’ll slot into a receiver group that includes Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, and Brandon LaFell.

Oakland sent a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for Bryant earlier this year, but subsequently waived him during final cutdowns. Bryant passed through waivers (presumably because rival clubs believe he’ll be suspended), and was free to sign with any team.

By signing Bryant, the Raiders aren’t taking much of a financial risk. If he ultimately is suspended, Bryant wouldn’t collect his paycheck from Oakland while he’s away from the club. And he’s unlikely to ink anything more than a minimum salary contract, anyway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Martavis Bryant Facing Year-Long Suspension

Former Steelers and Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant is facing a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy again, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Rumors of a looming suspension for Bryant had been swirling for some time, but this is the first definitive report on that front. Schefter adds that the NFL could issue an official ruling as early as this week.

Of course, the Raiders traded a 2018 third-round draft pick to the Steelers to acquire Bryant, but the troubled playmaker never played a down for Oakland. And, given that this would be Bryant’s third suspension in four years, it is possible that he will never play in the NFL again.

Bryant, 26, missed the entire 2016 season after repeated substance-abuse policy violations. However, he played in 15 games for Pittsburgh last year and flashed enough to entice the Raiders to part with the 79th overall pick in this year’s draft. He posted 50 catches for 603 yards and three scores in 2017, though he did clash with the Steelers’ coaching staff.

When he was dealt to Oakland, he promised to turn over a new leaf, but he was unfortunately unable to do so. He will be entitled to counseling from the NFL Players Association, even though his return to the league is now very much in doubt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos

Undrafted rookie kicker Kaare Vedvik wasn’t going to make the Ravens due to the presence of Justin Tucker, but his leg proved so impressive this offseason that it was reported multiple teams were interested in trading for him. Those hopes appeared to be dashed, at least temporarily, when Vedvik was rushed to the hospital with very serious injuries just before roster cuts.

Vedvik can’t really remember what happened to him, but it appears police are suspecting some sort of foul play as he suffered serious head trauma. Ravens coach John Harbaugh thinks it “cost him a chance to kick in this league” and added “there were plenty of trade talks” involving Vedvik according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. It’s an unfortunate situation all around for the Norway native who was shaping up to be a very good story. Here’s to hoping he makes a full recovery.

More from around the AFC:

  • It’s been a long road back to the field for Chiefs All-Pro safety Eric Berry. Berry, who suffered an Achilles tear that cost him the entire 2017 season, is now suffering from a heel injury that may cause him to miss Week 1 according to Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star. Heel and Achilles injuries can be closely related so it makes sense why the team would want to be cautious, but being without Berry for any period of time would be a huge blow to an already weak Kansas City secondary.
  • The Raiders’ trade for Martavis Bryant ended in disaster. The team surrendered a third round pick for the oft-troubled receiver, and he ended up never playing a down for them. Facing yet another suspension, the team cut him this past weekend. Despite all that, Raiders coach Jon Gruden is somehow still open to bringing Bryant back, saying “perhaps we’ll get Martavis again next year and get the best out of him” adding that he’s a “great talent” and that the move “was a risk I think well worth taking” per ProFootballTalk.com.
  • Rookie running back Royce Freeman has been named the Broncos’ starter over incumbent Devontae Booker, according to Mike Klis of 9News. Freeman, a third round pick from Oregon, started the summer as the number two but leapfrogged Booker due to a strong preseason.

Raiders Announce Roster Cuts

Trading Khalil Mack wasn’t the Raiders’ only order of business Saturday. They’ve also moved their roster to 53 players by making the following transactions:

Waived:

Released:

Waived/injured:

Placed on injured reserve:

Placed on PUP list:

Raiders To Release Martavis Bryant

The Raiders will release wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who is facing another drug-related suspension, per Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bryant is currently appealing his upcoming ban.

Oakland gave up the 79th overall pick in this year’s draft to obtain Bryant from the Steelers, but will be moving on from the talented receiver without him ever playing a down for the team. Bryant appears to be facing a second indefinite suspension, something that would be incredibly hard to come back from.

If Bryant doesn’t win his appeal and is suspended indefinitely for a second time, it could be the end of his NFL career. It would be an incredibly sad ending to what was a very promising career. Bryant always flashed dynamic play-making ability in Pittsburgh but could never stay out of trouble off the field.

When he returned from his previous indefinite ban last year, he quickly clashed with the Steelers’ coaching staff. Unhappy with his reduced role with the team, Bryant demanded a trade. The Steelers finally found a take in Oakland, and clearly won this trade. Bryant has 17 touchdowns in just 36 career games, but will have a very long road ahead of him if he hopes to ever make it back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Henderson, Broncos, Penn

Carlos Henderson has had a tough time so far in the NFL. After being taken with the 82nd overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Broncos, Henderson is yet to make his NFL debut. A hand injury cost him his entire rookie season, and he’s been away from the team this training camp for undisclosed reasons.

The team took Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton in the draft this year, making the receivers room very crowded with no clear spot for Henderson. To make matters even worse, Henderson was suspended for the first week of the season for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy reports Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link).

It likely stems from his arrest back in January on marijuana charges. Given that Henderson was already being projected by many as a roster cut and still hasn’t reported to the team, at this point it would be surprising if the former third round pick remains in Denver much longer.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The details are in on Donald Penn‘s contract restructuring with the Raiders. His cap number in 2018 has been reduced to $4.975MM (down from $8.38MM0, and he’ll get $2.75MM in extra guaranteed money on his deal for 2019, a source told Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The reason for Martavis Bryant‘s absence from the last couple of Raiders practices is migraines, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (Twitter link). Tafur adds that migraines have “plagued him for years.”
  • The Raiders placed veteran defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin on injured reserve with a biceps tear, according to Michael Gehlken of Las Vegas Review-Journal (Twitter link). To make up for the loss of Rubin, the team claimed defensive tackle Gabe Wright off waivers today.

West Notes: Kaepernick, Cardinals, Raiders

Thursday will mark a pivotal moment in Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the NFL, as Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports writes. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank will meet with lawyers representing the NFL and the former 49ers quarterback to determine whether his case moves forward. If Burbank sides with Kaepernick, a hearing will take place and the QB’s team could press for even more discovery or depositions in an effort to prove its case.

Even if Kaepernick loses in this round, his legal team could still believe it has the necessary evidence to take President Donald Trump to federal court. That’s seen as a last-ditch effort for Kaep, so a victory on Thursday could lessen the chances of that battle taking place.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • Cardinals wide receiver Greg Little has a really good chance to make the roster, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Little, 29, has not seen the field since the 2014 season, but his route-running ability has impressed coaches thus far in camp. Little showed promise during his tenure with the Browns, including a 2011 rookie season in which he hauled in 61 receptions for 709 yards and two scores. Now that he’s healthy, Little believes that he can get back to his old form.
  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden has been critical of Martavis Bryant this offseason, but he impressed this week and had a particularly strong showing on Wednesday, as Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes. “Today was probably his best day,” wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett said. “Obviously, he got more reps today because of his overall preparation. Again, he’s putting the time in and the work in, and then he’ll benefit like he’s doing right now. That’s the starting point. It always starts with the preparation. … He just needs now to be consistent and keep stacking success. “He had a good day today. Now we need to stack tomorrow and keep building on it, keep building on it.Regardless of Bryant’s performance or his understanding of the playbook, it would be a shocker if Bryant did not make the final cut.