Dez Bryant hasn’t played an NFL down since December 31, 2017. That was 1,031 days ago. After his unceremonious departure from Dallas (the Cowboys released him during the 2018 offseason), the three-time Pro Bowler and recipient of 75 NFL touchdowns (73 receiving, two punt returns) didn’t resurface until midseason, joining the Saints after an excruciating seven-month hibernation. Bryant never suited up for the Saints, blowing his Achilles out two days into his New Orleans tenure.
But on Tuesday, the former first-round pick finally resurrected his long-dormant career, officially joining Baltimore as a member of the team’s practice squad. Bryant likely never envisioned himself as a 31-year-old Ravens practice-squadder, but after two years of crickets, the veteran is ecstatic just to have his foot in the door.
“My emotions [are] running high right now,” Bryant tweeted, appreciative of his new opportunity in the Charm City. “I’m thankful … I can’t stop crying.”
After his grisly injury in New Orleans, it seemed the league had all but abandoned Bryant, leaving him to wither away in the cold darkness of free-agent obscurity. There were nibbles along the way—Jerry Jones had alluded to bringing Dez back at one point—but nothing Bryant could sink his teeth into, until the Ravens came calling.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Dez in Baltimore. The Ravens have an abundance of young receivers at their disposal including Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (whose controversial cousin Antonio was just signed by Tampa Bay), Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and James Proche. An injury to one of those four could prompt his promotion to active duty, completing the embattled Bryant’s incredible comeback arc. But even if that doesn’t come to fruition, Bryant’s vast experience, including a stretch when he was thought of as Tony Romo’s go-to receiver in Big D, should make him a valuable presence in the Ravens’ locker room.
Dez’s new teammates can’t wait to see what the 6’2” receiver looks like in his new purple and black threads.
Who knows what Bryant has left in his NFL tank—he totaled a pedestrian 69-838-6 receiving line the last we saw of him in 2017. But given his past success and reported clean bill of health, the three-time 1,000-yard receiver is a worthy reclamation project for the 5-1 Ravens.