Even though I reside outside Cincinnati, I still like to think I am able to maintain a good handle on the general Zeitgeist of the team and its fans. And as best I can tell, no one seems to give a shit about this whole Bryant situation.
Well. I give a shit. I give lots of giant, Andre Smith man-tittie sized (and shaped?) shits.
Do you know that, as of this moment, you can go to Joe Reedy's blog or NFL.com and see casual mentions of the fact that the Bengals might consider reaching an injury settlement with their centerpiece offseason acquisition? This means (ahem) HE WOULD NEVER EVEN PLAY A DOWN FOR THE TEAM DESPITE SIGNING A LONG TERM DEAL.
Are fucking kidding me? Please find me examples of a team bringing in a guy for a workout, giving him a physical, taking that guy over someone else that they ended up bringing in later, and then having that acquisition fall apart before the start of the season for an injury that happened the previous season.
You may think I am too hard or biased against the Bengals. But go back and look at my writing on Bryant...I thought the whole bringing in TO thing was just the Bengals positioning themselves for a Superbowl run this year due to a looming lockout next year. I specifically thought the injury to Bryant angle was revisionist history and seemed incorrect. Why? Because no one talked about Bryant's lingering injury until we signed TO!
The addition of TO and the confidence in Shipley and Gresham to produce right away likely explains everyone's seeming willingness to just kinda sorta glance over this issue but I say FUCK THAT. I thought the Bengals went out and got us a goddamn 3 number 1 WR juggernaut. But no, it seems more and more like the Bengals just screwed up massively on this one. Let's recap what happened with Bryant just so it's clear:
- Coles does not work out, we part ways with him after the season
- Bengals express interest in Marshall, Bryant & TO
- Bryant and TO come in for back to back workouts
- Bengals decide they like Bryant best
- Bengals offer Bryant 4 year $28 million contract with $10 million guaranteed
- Somewhere along the line, Bengals learn that Bryants knees suck
- Team brings in TO on very favorable terms
- Story line publicly emerges that Bryant's knee still sucks
- Bryant practices in first day of training preventing Bengals from putting him on "reserve" PUP
- Chad & TO become the overwhelming focus of attention and analysis
- Bryant slips into the background, and everyone forgets he was supposed to be the future number 1 on our team for the rest of Carson's prime
- The Bengals are now discussing cutting Bryant and eating some of the guaranteed money
Holy shit what a fucking debacle. This, friends, smacks of the way the Bengals historically fucked us. It's a giant stain on an otherwise decent off season.
The PUP thing in particular, now that is impossible to deny that Bryant remains injured, stands out as a truely idiotic. Okay - the Bengals botched their physical of Bryant, clearly that's worse overall. But it's still a 4 year deal and Bryant has true #1 talent. If he doesn't play to begin the year (or even play at all) we can survive, we now have options with the addition of TO and the draft picks. Bryant can still be a good long term signing for future years. So why are we considering cutting him? Are the knees that bad? And if they are why did they sign him? Aren't we running in circles now? AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH.
Anyway, in the meantime, I still can't let go of the WR juggernaut that I feel I am owed, dammit! Fans have Superbowl expectations, not wholly unreasonable I might add. But without The Juggernaut, the Bengals as Superbowl contenders thesis takes a large hit.
My hope is that Bryant gets better and can play even if he needs some time beyond the preseason. And I hope perhaps there is more to this story that will explain to me exactly how the Bengals got themselves in this position. Regardless, I remain convinced that the Bengals need loud critics to keep their asses in line. This whole incident should remind all fans that MGMT still has a long way to go.