Baltimore Ravens: What happened with the Dez Bryant situation?

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 27: Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 27: Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a touchdown against the New York Giants during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Many had high hopes for Dez Bryant‘s arrival to Baltimore but it didn’t turn out the way we hoped it would. What happened between Bryant and the Ravens?

The search for a true number one receiver has been a pursuit that’s lasted seemingly forever in Baltimore and the Ravens just can’t seem to find their guy whether it be through Free Agency, trade, or the NFL Draft. It’s not for a lack of trying to bring guys in and the team has seen some limited success with guys like Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr. Unfortunately, the team has taken lots of swings at the plate and missed consistently with guys like Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin laughing right in the team’s face.

Baltimore has also spent two first-round picks on receivers since 2015 with mixed results. Breshad Perriman was a flat-out but for the Ravens, while Marquise Brown has shown some promise but not quite enough to be the team’s top guy. Brown remains with the team while Perriman is gone, and there’s not much positive left on Baltimore’s roster worth taking a second glimpse at.

This was the reasoning behind while the Ravens needed to make more investments at the wide receiver position and why we saw the team take a chance on former Pro Bowler Dez Bryant for the 2020 season.

Bryant has long been linked to the Ravens since he left the Dallas Cowboys back in 2018. Bryant was certainly a shell of his former self, but many believed that he could still put up some good numbers for the right team. Many believed Baltimore could be that team.

The two parties flirted with each other without making a commitment to a signing longer than it took John Dorian and Elliot Reid to get back together on “Scrubs”. It was a frustrating tease for fans everywhere both of the Ravens and football in general. Everyone was waiting impatiently for them to just make it official. This only worsened when Bryant worked out with Baltimore during the offseason only to leave the facility without a deal.

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But then things finally changed and the couple that we had been rooting for to get together all along finally made it official and Dez Bryant signed to the team’s practice squad in late October. It wasn’t much later that Bryant was promoted to the active roster and made his first catch in nearly three years. It was truly a magical moment for anyone who cared about football.

With Bryant seemingly in the folds (finally) and the 32-year old receiver showing he still had some gas left in the tank, it appeared that the Ravens may have found some juice the receiving core desperately needed. By no means was anyone anticipating Bryant to return to a Pro Bowl-caliber player, but it stood to reason that he would make a decent impact for the team moving forward if nothing else. The 11-year vet definitely brought up the morale and competition in the receiving core; this is something that was very evident the moment he arrived.

Things never truly materialized into what fans and both parties had hoped, however, and Byrant caught just six passes in five games. Bryant, to his credit, did find the end-zone twice in such a limited role. Bryant was held without a catch in two post-season games and he was undoubtedly a non-factor in the offense.

This wasn’t so much a knock on him as much as it was an awkward fit in the offense that may have been forced. Greg Roman didn’t try to feature Dez Bryant in any way and gave him very minimal opportunities to strut his stuff. As a result, we barely saw what Bryant may or may not have had left on the field. It was incredibly sad to see and definitely irritating for those who had waited so long to see the potential fit.

For anyone who had hoped that Bryant would return for 2021 and get a second shot at a bigger role, that won’t come to be. Bryant shot down any of those hopes in a Twitter feed about his frustrations with his role. Bryant was nothing short of humble and professional, but he expressed his desire to play two more seasons and then retire. Unfortunately, those two years won’t be as a Raven.

So what happened between Dez Bryant and the Baltimore Ravens? It’s really quite simple: the two parties waited too long to make things happen and by the time they finally did it was too late to make it work. No one is to blame for the failure of this experiment, but perhaps we had all set our expectations a tad too high. This test was one that did not hold much upside and we bought into it because we told ourselves it would work. It happens to the best of us and hopefully, we will (finally) learn from this mistake.

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Ravens Flock should wish nothing but the best for Dez Bryant and he likely continues his career somewhere else. We know that Bryant thinks the world of the Baltimore Ravens organization so at least no bridges were burned during this process. We will always wonder what might’ve been had this whole thing started just a bit sooner, but at least we can sleep a little easier knowing the fit was never meant to be.