Monday, August 30, 2010

Antonio Bryant Gets Paid to Leave

Today the Cincinnati Bengals released wide out Antonio Bryant.  This was a move that every one saw coming as going in to camp the Bengals were stacked as wide receiver having guys like Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell on the roster and signing free agents Terrell Owens and Matt Jones this off-season.  They also picked Jordan Shipley in the draft giving them tonnes of depth at the position.  There was simply no room for Bryant who was coming off of major knee surgery and had been lackluster in training camp thus far.

There is a silver lining for Bryant though as the 4-year $28 million contract he signed with the Bengals back in March guaranteed him $8 million no matter what.  So basically the Bengals paid Bryant $8 million to show up for a few weeks of training camp and then go home.  He was a Cincinnati Bengal for exactly 172 days.  Talk about easy money.
But wait it gets better.  

Back in 2008 Bryant signed a league minimum contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and went on to have a breakout season catching 83 passes for 1248 yards and 7 touchdowns.  At the end of the 2008 season the Bucs put the franchise tag on Bryant meaning he would be paid a salary in line with the top players at his position in the league.  In 2009 the price to franchise tag a wide receiver was $9.84 million.

In 2009 Bryant caught only 39 passes for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns while getting paid $9.84 million. So in the last 12 months Bryant has made $17.84 million to play in 13 games and catch 39 passes for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Broken down that works out to:

$457,435 per catch
$29,733 per yard
$4,460,000 per touchdown

Not a bad pay day if you ask me.  But this incident speaks to a larger issue, mainly the ineptitude of the Cincinnati Bengals.  This is a team that has never won a SuperBowl and probably never will based on the way their going.

Everyone is entitled to a screw up here and there, maybe a bad draft or a bad free agent signing but giving someone a big contract with big time guaranteed money and then not having that player make it through training camp.  Someone definitely got fired for this one.

It's just business as usual for the Bengals though as this team routinely screws up draft picks and free agent signings often getting guys with poor track records or guys that just bust the second they put on the uniform, just look at last years draft.

The Bengals had the #6 overall pick and were in desperate need of a franchise left tackle.  Waiting for them at #6 was Michael Oher the best lineman in college football and a high character guy out of Ole Miss.  Oher would have been a perfect fit for the Bengals but they passed on him and chose Andre Smith from Alabama. Smith is a headcase and had a pathetic combine which was highlighted by his milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard. This of course merited a $42 million contract, that was only signed after a holdout.  In his first practice Smith hurt himself and missed most of the season.

Smith is just the most recent example however as the Bengals have also drafted such historic busts as David Pollack, Chris Perry, Peter Warrick, Akili Smith, Reinard Wilson and Ki-Jana Carter.  The Bengals have found some gems in the draft, Leon Hall and Jonothan Joseph, but for the most part the guys they take don't work out.

This is a team that has made the playoffs twice in the past 20 year seasons and its because they make awful personal moves like the Antonio Bryant deal.  Who gives a wide receiver coming off of major knee surgery a contract worth $28 million?  It blows my mind.

You can;t blame Bryant though, he was just trying to get paid.  His comeback season with the Bucs in 2008 was one of the feel good stories in the league and by all accounts he is a great guy.  He just got injured and was lucky enough to have the Bengals come calling for his services.  Thankfully he has some money to live off for awhile or at least until he can get back on his feet.

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