Bucs sign WR Antonio Bryant
The Bucs have made their first move at a position that needs some help, signing troubled free agent receiver Antonio Bryant to a contract.
Bryant has started 56 times in his 77 career games with the Cowboys, Browns and 49ers. But whether he can help the Bucs after a year out of the NFL remains to be seen. Bryant was released by San Francisco in March 2007 and did not play in the league last fall, largely because he had a potential suspension looming over him because of noncompliance with the substance-abuse policy.
A lawsuit filed against the NFL last summer has been resolved and Bryant's Denver-based agent, Peter Schaffer tells us "there are no legal issues pending" against his client, indicating he would be eligible to play on opening day.
The NFL assessed Bryant a four-game suspension for violating the substance-abuse policy at the end of the 2006 season, with just two games left on the schedule. When the 49ers released him three months later, it was expected that any team that signed him would do so with the understanding he must serve the remainder of that suspension. The Bucs worked him out in 2007 and opted not to sign him, likely for that reason. However, it is now believed the suspension is no longer applicable.
When Bryant's federal case was dismissed in December at his request, an agreement was reached that satisfied both parties. Bryant had contested the league's requirement that he participate in the substance-abuse policy while not on an actual roster. No details of the legal agreement were made public, and Schaffer earlier today refused to say whether Bryant is still enrolled in the substance-abuse program.
Bryant has had other issues, too. He was sentenced to one year of probation and and fined $1,312 after pleading no contest to reckless driving last year in San Mateo, Calif. A charge of resisting arrest stemming from the incident was dropped as part of the plea deal.
And Bryant had a well-publicized run-in with Bill Parcells in 2004 in which he tossed a sweaty jersey in the coach's face while playing for the Cowboys. He was ordered to take anger management courses after the incident and was subsequently traded to the Browns.
Bryant's best season came in that lone season with Cleveland in 2005 when Bryant caught 69 passes for 1,009 yards.