Source: Raiders bringing back Martavis Bryant on one-year deal

Source: Raiders bringing back Martavis Bryant on one-year deal

ALAMEDA – The Raiders cut Martavis Bryant less than two weeks ago. They brought him back on Tuesday in a surprising turn that should quickly improve their receiver corps.

The Raiders needed a deep threat, someone to draw safeties' attention and stretch the field vertically.

They chose to go with someone they know.

An NFL source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Bryant will return to the Raiders on a one-year contract. The sides honed in on a deal Tuesday, when Bryant returned to the team’s Alameda training complex.

NFL Network was first to report the news.

Since Bryant is in shape and familiar with jon Gruden’s scheme and terminology, he’s expected to step in and play right away.

Exactly how long he’ll play remains uncertain, because his league standing remains in question. Multiple reports stated Bryant is facing a one-year suspension as a repeat offender of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, pending the completion of an appeals process.

Nothing is resolved in that regard, so Bryant’s league standing remains uncertain at this stage. The league could bring action at a later date, but Bryant can play until that happens, if it ever does.

His new one-year contract is not guaranteed because it was agreed upon during the year, so the Raiders could move on at any time without long-term financial commitment. If he is suspended again, it would be without pay.

Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie said cutting Bryant had nothing to do with his league standing, that it was a football decision made because he lost out to other receivers.

“We expected more from him. He did not make the team because Keon Hatcher came on, and other players outperformed him,” Gruden said. “We covered that during training camp, when he missed extended amounts of time. You saw Hatcher [in the preseason finale]. He did it in the game. He has done it on the practice field. He can play multiple positions and can play on special teams. We tried to keep the five or six best receivers we had.”

That crew has changed since rosters were trimmed to 53. Brandon LaFell was signed and Johnny Holton was let go. Per the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Holton has returned to the Raiders practice squad.

Bryant was acquired for a third-round pick on the NFL draft’s opening night, but fell out of Gruden’s favor in training camp. Bryant was criticized for regularly missing practice – that earned him the nickname “White tiger” – and struggling to learn multiple receiver positions.

There’s no arguing Bryant’s ability as a deep threat, with ideal size and speed. He could be an asset to a receiver corps lacking in downfield options outside Amari Cooper.

Bryant has 126 receptions for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns in three NFL seasons, all played in Pittsburgh. He has been suspended several times for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, which has slowed his career considerably since being drafted in the fourth round out of Clemson.

Raiders must use 2019 NFL draft, free agency to overhaul WR corps


Raiders must use 2019 NFL draft, free agency to overhaul WR corps

CINCINNATI – The Raiders started 2018 with an excellent receiver corps. On paper, anyway.

Amari Cooper was the No. 1 guy. Jordy Nelson added experience, leadership, and just maybe more speed than people thought. Martavis Bryant was going to stretch the field. Ryan Switzer would be an ideal slot man. Seth Roberts was available in reserve.

Then the season began, and the whole thing fell apart.

Head coach Jon Gruden quickly grew tired of Switzer and shipped him to Pittsburgh. Bryant got cut before the regular season and then brought back, but never got into the flow of Gruden’s offense.

Cooper got controversially traded to Dallas. Nelson’s knee got bruised.

The Raiders scrambled to fill spots, with weapons constantly rotating in and out around quarterback Derek Carr.

Gruden isn’t attached to any receiver still on the roster, meaning a complete reconstruction could be in store. They certainly need a new No. 1 receiver, and some help a most positions as the Raiders try to improve Carr’s supporting cast.

This offense can be dynamic with Gruden and Carr working well together, especially with weapons on the outside and in the slot.

Players likely to stay in 2019

Marcell Ateman: The seventh-round pick has had some big moments since being forced into action after the Amari Cooper trade. He hasn’t been great, and has a ton to learn about how to function in Gruden’s system, but there’s potential there. The Oaklahoma State alum could be a productive red zone target and someone who can make plays without blazing speed.

Dwayne Harris: Harris is an unrestricted free agent, but could come back reasonably priced next year. He’s a solid return man. That’s valuable even with so many kickoffs becoming touchbacks.

Keon Hatcher: He could stick around, for training camp at least, and fight for a place on the 2019 53-man roster.

Players likely to go

Jordy Nelson: The veteran receiver is set to make $7.2 million in base salary and a roster bonuses next season, though it isn’t guaranteed and there’s no dead money attached if he were to get cut.

Carr and Gruden have lauded Nelson’s locker-room presence, but they could get a younger, more dynamic receiver for that freight. They also have money to spare, so the Raiders could keep him around as a mentor and reliable presence in the clutch. It’s not a mortal lock, but it’s certainly possible Nelson will spend just one year in silver and black. Time will tell on this one.

Martavis Bryant: The talented receiver has ideal size and speed, but never fit with Jon Gruden or his offense. Gruden often criticized him in public and dubbed Bryant the “white tiger” for rarely being available on the practice.

None of that matters more than Friday’s NFL action, where Bryant was suspended indefinitely for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement from a 1-year ban as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Gruden gave up a third-round pick for Bryant, a high price for a failed experiment.

Seth Roberts: He might not be here now without having a guaranteed salary in 2018. Roberts was down on the depth chart until attrition brought him back. Roberts still isn’t a heavily targeted option despite all these injuries, which is something to note. He’s set to make $4.45 million next year, but could be cut free and clear. That may be too much to stick around, though Carr could use some continuity in the receiver room.

Brandon LaFell: The Raiders loved having LaFell around. He’s a consummate pro, someone with reliable hands who does all the little things right. I believe they would’ve brought him back, if not for him suffering a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in Week 11. It generally takes 11 calendar months to recover from such an injury, meaning he wouldn’t be ready until midseason 2019 at the earliest.

That puts him out of the running for an offseason deal.

Raiders potential offseason plan

Free agency: The Raiders have money to burn on this position, and should import at least one veteran presence to the group. A slot receiver couldn’t hurt, either.

One problem: The 2019 free-agent receiver class stinks. There’s no truly dominant options available because teams don’t let dominant No. 1s walk. They don’t trade them either (cough, cough).

There some options to bring in veteran leadership with high production potential. Golden Tate might be the biggest fish, even at age 30. He has several 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, is durable as heck and would step off the plane as the Raiders’ No. 1 receiver. His price will be high, but the contract length might not be that long.

Larry Fitzgerald seems like a player Gruden would simply love – think of a post-49ers Jerry Rice in Silver and Black – but Fitzgerald said this summer he’ll only play for the Cardinals.

The Raiders could use some funds on Donte Moncrief or Qunicy Enunwa, guys who could thrive with an accurate quarterback. Geronimo Allison’s a young player but restricted. It might not be worth a overpaying to get him.

Draft: Unlike the free agent crop, the 2019 NFL draft class is loaded with quality receivers. There are so many good ones value could be had outside the first round, where the Raiders could find a future No. 1 or a speed demon to stretch the field.

There’s some discrepancy among draft analysts about positional rankings, but Mississippi’s A.J. Brown is often considered the top talent.

The Raiders might be interested in N.C. State’s Kelvin Harmon, a tough receiver with quality hands and solid routes run.

Stanford’s J.J. Arcega-Whiteside sounds like a Gruden-type receiver, a big bodied player drawing Mike Evans comparisons.

Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown isn’t very big, but is a speed demon who can stretch the field and make dynamic plays. Opinions vary on N’Keal Harry, but he’s a big reliable target who could be worth a high pick.

Bottom line: If the Raiders let most receivers go as expected, they’ll need to retool the group with a diverse skill sets to help Derek Carr move the chains and the ball downfield. They should sign a veteran, even if they keep Nelson, and draft one or two to improve a group that has fallen on hard times.

Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant suspended indefinitely by NFL


Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant suspended indefinitely by NFL

CINCINNATI – Odds were slim at best that Martavis Bryant would play for the Raiders again. He’s currently on injured reserve and set for unrestricted free agency following a one-year experiment that failed from the start.

Now it’s unclear when he’ll be able to play for any team.

The NFL suspended Bryant indefinitely for violating conditions of his reinstatement after being banned as a repeat offender of the league’s substance abuse policy.

He returns to the reserve/commissioner suspended list, where he was placed to start a 1-year ban in April 2016. He played the entire 2017 season in Pittsburgh without incident.

A possible return to the suspended list loomed over Bryant since the summer, and was brought up again on Sept. 1 as a reason why the Raiders cut him upon finalizing their regular season roster.

He was re-signed after Week 1 and received 14 weeks salary as an underused and underperforming member of the Raiders receiver corps.

Bryant has immense talent, plus ideal size and speed, but never justified the third-round pick traded to Pittsburgh for him. Count that as a draft day mistake by Jon Gruden and the Raiders’ brain trust.

Gruden often criticized Bryant for struggling to learn multiple receiver positions in his offensive system. Bryant was also dubbed the “white tiger,” for being unavailable so often in training camp while dealing with migraine headaches.

Bryant didn’t do much once the season started. He finished with 19 catches for 266 yards and no touchdowns.