The Raiders might have made the first colossal blunder of the offseason. A Las Vegas newspaper is reporting the team fears a suspension could be coming for wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
Bryant, recall, has run afoul of the league’s substance abuse policy in the past. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season, and he was sidelined for all of 2016 after an additional failed test. Bryant is large (6-4, 211) and fast, but he lasted until the fourth round back in 2014 (probably because teams were aware of risks when he was coming out of Clemson).
Now Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the Raiders fear Bryant could be facing another suspension. Given Bryant’s past, it likely would be a suspension of the year-long variety.
The Raiders gave up a third-round pick to obtain Bryant back in April, so the suspension would be a real gut punch. The Steelers, meanwhile, could look like geniuses for unloading Bryant while he still had some value. They instead replaced him by selecting James Washington late in the second round.
Like another talented-but-troubled receiver, Josh Gordon, Bryant is in a contract year. You would logically figure that those guys would be extra motivated to stay clean, put up good numbers and then cash in next spring. But it won’t necessarily work out that way.
If the league suspends Bryant, he won't be a free agent next spring. If and when he were reinstated, the Raiders would still have him under contract for a year (when a player is suspended, his contract freezes).
If a suspension occurs for Bryant, it will make Jordy Nelson look more palatable as a later-round choice. Yesterday I was figuring Nelson was Oakland’s 3rd-best wide receiver (Amari Cooper will be their No. 1). Now it’s looking more likely Nelson will be the No. 2 in that offense.
When Bryant is healthy and on his game, he’s capable of being a difference-making receiver. That’s why the Raiders traded the third-rounder for him. In the last four years, only 56 wide receivers have averaged at least 10 fantasy points per game (standard scoring). Bryant has done it twice (though he sat out in 2016 and was lightly used last year).
|BEST PER-GAME SEASONS (last 4 years)|
|2014||Odell Beckham Jr., NYG||11||7.9||114.6||3.2||1.00||17.8|
|2014||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||16||8.1||106.1||.8||.94||16.3|
|2015||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||16||8.5||114.6||1.8||.73||16.0|
|2015||Julio Jones, Atl.||16||8.5||116.9||.0||.56||15.1|
|2017||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||14||7.2||109.5||.0||.67||14.9|
|2015||Odell Beckham Jr., NYG||15||6.4||96.7||.2||.87||14.9|
|2015||Brandon Marshall, NYJ||16||6.8||93.9||.0||.88||14.6|
|2017||DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||15||6.4||91.9||.0||.87||14.4|
|2014||Jordy Nelson, G.B.||16||6.1||94.9||.0||.81||14.4|
|2014||Demaryius Thomas, Den.||16||6.9||101.2||.0||.71||14.4|
|2014||Dez Bryant, Dall.||16||5.5||82.5||.0||1.00||14.3|
|2015||Allen Robinson, Jac.||16||5.0||87.5||.0||.88||14.0|
|2015||DeAndre Hopkins, Hou.||16||6.9||95.1||.0||.71||13.7|
|2016||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||15||7.1||85.6||.6||.80||13.4|
|2016||Jordy Nelson, G.B.||16||6.1||78.6||.0||.88||13.1|
|2014||Julio Jones, Atl.||15||6.9||106.2||.1||.40||13.0|
|2016||Mike Evans, T.B.||16||6.0||82.6||.0||.79||13.0|
|2014||Randall Cobb, G.B.||16||5.7||80.4||2.3||.77||12.9|
|2016||Julio Jones, Atl.||14||5.9||100.6||.0||.43||12.6|
|2014||Emmanuel Sanders, Den.||16||6.3||87.8||2.8||.58||12.5|
|2016||Odell Beckham, NYG||16||6.3||85.4||.6||.63||12.4|
|2015||Martavis Bryant, Pitt.||10||5.0||76.5||3.7||.70||12.2|
|2015||Sammy Watkins, Buff.||13||4.6||80.5||.1||.69||12.2|
|2016||A.J. Green, Cin.||10||6.6||96.4||.0||.40||12.0|
|2014||Jeremy Maclin, Phil.||16||5.3||82.4||.0||.63||12.0|
|2014||Calvin Johnson, Det.||13||5.5||82.8||.0||.62||12.0|
|2015||Doug Baldwin, Sea.||16||4.9||66.8||.0||.88||11.9|
|2014||T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||15||5.5||89.7||1.3||.47||11.9|
|2015||A.J. Green, Cin.||16||5.4||81.1||.0||.63||11.9|
|2014||Mike Evans, T.B.||15||4.5||70.1||.0||.80||11.8|
|2015||Eric Decker, NYJ||15||5.3||68.5||.0||.80||11.6|
|2017||Tyreek Hill, K.C.||15||5.0||78.9||3.9||.53||11.5|
|2016||T.Y. Hilton, Ind.||16||5.7||90.5||.0||.40||11.4|
|2017||Keenan Allen, LAC||16||6.4||87.1||.6||.44||11.4|
|2016||Michael Thomas, N.O.||15||6.1||75.8||.0||.60||11.2|
|2014||Alshon Jeffery, Chi.||16||5.3||70.8||2.1||.63||11.0|
|2015||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||16||6.8||75.9||.0||.56||11.0|
|2015||Calvin Johnson, Det.||16||5.5||75.9||.0||.56||11.0|
|2015||Allen Hurns, Jac.||15||4.3||68.7||.0||.67||10.9|
|2016||Davante Adams, G.B.||16||4.7||62.3||.0||.77||10.9|
|2014||A.J. Green, Cin.||13||5.3||80.1||.2||.46||10.8|
|2017||Davante Adams, G.B.||14||5.3||63.2||.0||.71||10.6|
|2015||Brandin Cooks, N.O.||16||5.3||71.1||1.1||.56||10.6|
|2015||Jeremy Maclin, K.C.||15||5.8||72.5||.9||.53||10.5|
|2016||Brandin Cooks, N.O.||16||4.9||73.3||1.9||.50||10.5|
|2014||Martavis Bryant, Pitt.||10||2.6||54.9||1.2||.80||10.4|
|2015||Demaryius Thomas, Den.||16||6.6||81.5||.0||.38||10.4|
|2015||Jarvis Landry, Mia.||16||6.9||72.3||7.1||.39||10.3|
|2017||Marvin Jones, Det.||16||3.8||68.8||.0||.56||10.3|
|2017||Julio Jones, Atl.||16||5.5||90.3||.9||.19||10.2|
|2014||DeSean Jackson, Wash.||15||3.7||77.9||.5||.40||10.2|
|2015||Emmanuel Sanders, Den.||15||5.1||75.7||1.9||.40||10.2|
|2016||Dez Bryant, Dall.||13||3.8||61.2||.0||.67||10.1|
|2014||Golden Tate, Det.||16||6.2||83.2||1.9||.25||10.0|
|2017||JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pitt.||14||4.1||65.5||.0||.57||10.0|
|2016||J.J. Nelson, Ariz.||10||3.0||51.7||6.0||.70||10.0|
In the chart above, for each player you’re seeing starts, and average catches, yards and touchdowns in those starts. Rushing yards and 2-point conversions are also included, but I’m not listing them. Fantasy points = 6 for TDs and 1 for every 10 yards.