Sitting more than 20 miles from One Buccaneer Place, I’m pretty sure I just heard some laughter coming out of the building.
BryantListen, the people who run the Bucs – Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris – are pretty classy guys, no matter if you think they’re good at their jobs. They’re not the type to gloat.
But I think they and some other important people in that building are at least feeling a sense of “we told you so’’ Sunday. At the very least, they have a right to feel that way. AFC North colleague James Walker reports the Bengals have cut Antonio Bryant, the guy they signed to a $28 million contract, and $8 million of that is still going to go to Bryant because it was guaranteed. Brilliant move, Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis. So brilliant that they had to go out and sign Terrell Owens and bring dynamite into a locker room that already was unstable.
They cut Bryant in part because he had some knee problems. They also cut him because they realized he just wasn’t that good and, maybe – just maybe – because Owens would be a better fit in the locker room. .
This is all stuff the Bucs realized long ago. Some fans showed outrage and did the tired old thing where they just blamed it on the Bucs being cheap when the team said it would let Bryant walk into free agency in February.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Letting Bryant walk had nothing to do with money, and the decision to let him walk was made long before February, when Morris announced it at the scouting combine. The decision on Bryant was made essentially by Bryant.
Bryant is a guy the old Tampa Bay regime (Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen) took a big shot on in 2008. They were the only ones willing to take a shot on a guy who had a slew of problems throughout his career. He responded by playing great for them and behaving like a model citizen.
Then, all that changed. Bryant immediately wanted a massive long-term deal. The Bucs basically said, “Show us you can behave and produce like that for one more season and you’ll get your deal’. They then turned around and guaranteed him $9 million by making him a restricted free agent for 2009.
The opportunity was there for Bryant and he dropped it in the open field with no defenders around him. He went through 2009 pouting about his lack of a long-term contract. His knee problems started flaring up. He started taking shots at then-rookie quarterback Josh Freeman. Not a very bright idea when Freeman’s been declared “The Franchise.’’
Bryant took shots at the coaching staff and blamed his sore knee on the long plane flight back from London – umm, they have ice and team doctors on planes, and you can get up and move around if you want.
Anyway, by late last season, the Bucs knew they had enough of Bryant and they would have shown the door even more quickly if they could have.
The Bengals then jumped on the wreckage. I know the saying is supposed to be “you get what you pay for.’’ In this case, though, I think the Bengals paid for what they got – a receiver with creaky knees and a bad attitude.