Martavis Bryant

NFL rumors: Former Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant applies for reinstatement


NFL rumors: Former Raiders receiver Martavis Bryant applies for reinstatement

Martavis Bryant is hoping to make a return to the gridiron.

The 27-year-old receiver, who last played with the Raiders in 2018, submitted a request for reinstatement to the NFL, ESPN's Dan Graziano reported, citing league sources.

Bryant was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December after repeatedly violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

The Clemson product and his attorney were able to delay the suspension by arguing the NFL didn't address Bryant's mental health and ADHD. Bryant was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. The league ultimately denied his appeal and suspended Bryant for the third time in four seasons.

Bryant and the NFL have worked since the end of last season to address the receiver's mental health and he has been submitting to drug tests regularly, Graziano reports.

[RELATED: Raiders' 2019 success will be defined by three players]

In his career, Bryant has caught 145 passes for 2,183 yards and 17 touchdowns but also has missed 36 out of a possible 80 games due to suspension.

He caught 19 passes for 266 yards in eight games for the Raiders last season.

With no playoffs for Raiders, a timeline of how the 2018 season fell apart


With no playoffs for Raiders, a timeline of how the 2018 season fell apart

We’ve finally reached the Raiders offseason, bringing a tortuous period to a close where Jon Gruden tore his roster down to the studs. The team finished 4-12, with far less talent than it had this time a year ago. The Raiders weren’t any good, but could’ve been better without several setbacks over the course of the season itself. There were some contributing incidents that took place during the offseason, but will start in training camp and work our way forward in a timeline of where things went south for the Silver and Black in 2018:

July 29: Raiders veterans report to training camp in Napa, but edge rusher Khalil Mack refused to do so without a new contract. The All-Pro was looking for a market-resetting deal for defensive players, and didn’t want to risk injury in football-related activities without long-term security. This prolonged Mack’s absence, which began by skipping the offseason program. There was tension between Mack’s camp and the Raiders, which would only escalate as time advanced.

Aug. 15: Jon Gruden calls Martavis Bryant the “white tiger,” referring to immense talent rarely on display after the receiver missed several camp practices battling migrane headaches. Bryant was also chided for not picking up the offensive system quickly, foreshadowing a messy relationship between player and team.

He was subsequently cut before the regular season and signed shortly thereafter. He was never a consistent target before ending up on injured reserve. He was there when the NFL banned him for violating conditions of his reinstatement following a suspension under the substance abuse policy.

That ended Bryant’s tenure with the team, making the third-round pick the Raiders traded to Pittsburgh for him a complete waste.

Sept. 1: Mack was traded to Chicago for a compensation package that included two first-round picks, though a second-rounder was shockingly given back to the Bears.

The season hinged on this trade, when optimism went out the window and Gruden started a roster teardown to acquire tools necessary for a full-scale roster rebuild this offseason. It was controversial -- many say ill-advised, even with a long holdout possible. The timing was odd, considering the Bears’ draft slot was a variable. That has proved to be a major flaw in the deal, with Mack making the Bears so good the 2019 first-round pick will fall near the bottom.

Sept. 19: Gruden and the Raiders tried to put the Mack trade in the past quickly, though his nationally-televised performances made that hard to do. Gruden didn’t help matters by saying, “pass rushers are hard to find.” That was played on loops across the country, reminding everyone the Raiders traded an elite pass rusher before the regular season began. The Mack trade was an overarching theme that hung over the season, and will until the Raiders start using the draft picks acquired for him to improve the roster.

Sept. 30: Donald Penn suffered a season-ending groin injury that thrust third-round pick Brandon Parker into the starting lineup at right tackle. Parker wasn’t all bad, but protection was an issue that wouldn’t have been as big if Penn were available all year, even at a new position.

Oct. 14: Marshawn Lynch was the team’s best offensive player early this season, and a leader on the field with his aggressive rushing style. His loss due to injury sent the offense into a bad place, struggling for first downs and touchdowns alike. This was a big blow to an offense that lost direction after Lynch went down.

Oct. 16: Derrick Johnson wasn’t used much and was given his release, a sign that some of the aging veterans signed in free agency weren’t going to work out. That left the Raiders to play young kids at key spots and let them grow up on the job.

Oct. 22 A.M.: Amari Cooper was traded to Dallas for a first-round pick, furthering the belief that Gruden was in the midst of a full-scale teardown and a pervading, though inaccurate theory that the Raiders were tanking.

The Raiders got great value for Cooper, a dynamic talent who can blow up at times and disappear at others. He would’ve cost a pretty penny when eligible for an extension, maybe more than he was worth. The Raiders cut bait when a first-round pick was offered. The Raiders got another top draft slot, and the Cowboys got a player who led them to the NFC East title. That’s a virtual win-win, though the Raiders were slammed for trading yet another superstar.

Oct. 22 P.M.: The Cooper trade went over like a lead balloon, and was followed with reports that quarterback Derek Carr had lost parts of the locker room and that Gruden’s moves had frustrated veteran portions of the roster. It was yet another distraction weighing the midseason down, forcing tight end Lee Smith to come to Carr’s defense. Gruden’s plan and the face of the Raiders' franchise were under siege at this point, and it would get worse before things got better.

Oct. 30 A.M.: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie retired, becoming an example of veteran frustration with the Raiders and their direction under Jon Gruden. This 1-6 team was in the midst of a teardown and suddenly skewing younger, with many veterans disenchanted with Gruden’s vision for the season.

Oct. 30: The NFL trade deadline passed without any more Raiders shipped out, despite Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley reportedly on the block late in the trading window.

The Raiders tried to move Bruce Irvin and couldn’t do it, upsetting a veteran who was clearly being phased out of the Raiders plans.

Nov. 1: The Raiders reached rock bottom against the geographic rival 49ers on national television. They got beat in every way by a crappy team starting undrafted former practice squad quarterback Nick Mullens for the first time. He carved the Raiders up, and the 49ers run game ate the Raiders alive.

There were rational questions about whether players had given up, disproven only by improved effort in later games.

Nov. 3: Irvin wasn’t happy about a lack of playing time in recent games, and was finally waived when he couldn’t be traded. He ended up signing with his hometown Atlanta Falcons, and threw shade on his former team by saying, “I’m free!!” upon joining his first Falcons practice.

Nov. 11: The Raiders lost their fifth straight game by at least 14 points, a franchise record that was one short of the longest lopsided-loss stretch in NFL history. This was the toughest on-field sequence, including three games in which the offense failed to score a touchdown.

Dec. 10: Owner Mark Davis fired Reggie McKenzie with three games left in the season when the longtime GM decided to walk rather than finish out the season as a lame duck. Gruden made criticizing McKenzie’s draft picks a regular thing over the course of the season. He wasn’t often wrong about a lack of production from three classes starting in 2015, but it portended a Gruden-McKenzie fracture at season’s end. This breakup came as no surprise. Davis hoped Gruden and McKenzie could work together, but that didn’t pan out, and the Raiders have now replaced him with former NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. Letting McKenzie walk was the final end of the previous era, and the new one is completely under Gruden’s control.

[RELATED: Report: Raiders to hire former Colts GM to support Mayock]

Dec. 11: The hits just kept on coming for the Silver and Black. The City of Oakland sued the Raiders and the NFL for antitrust violations and breach of contract, which prompted the Raiders to pull their lease offer to play the 2019 season at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders are still looking for a place to play this fall.

Dec. 24: The Raiders finally had a good night at the office, beating Denver in what may have been their last game at Oakland Coliseum. The crowd was into it and partying well after the final whistle. Carr had a great night, and the Raiders defense played its best game all year. If it was the last game at the aging stadium, the Raiders sent it out right.

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


Raiders must use 2019 NFL draft, free agency to overhaul wide receiver 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.

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

Cooper controversially was 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 at 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 draft 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 Oklahoma State alum could be a productive red-zone target and someone who can make plays without blazing speed.

Dwayne Harris: He's an unrestricted free agent, but he 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 roster bonuses next season, though it isn’t guaranteed and there’s no dead money attached if he were to be 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 he never fit with Gruden or his offense. Gruden often criticized him in public and dubbed Bryant the “white tiger” for rarely being available on the practice field.

None of that matters more than Friday’s development, in which Bryant was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement from a one-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, if not for having a guaranteed salary in 2018. Roberts was down on the depth chart until attrition brought him back. He still isn’t a heavily targeted option despite all these injuries, which is something to note. Roberts is set to make $4.45 million next year, but he could be cut free and clear. That contract might be too pricey for him 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. 1's walk. They don’t trade them either (cough, cough).

There should be some veteran options with high production potential, though. 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 is an intriguing young player, but he'll be a restricted free agent. It might not be worth 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 often is considered the top talent.

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

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 of their current receivers go as expected, they’ll need to retool the group with 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.