Dez Bryant took a methodical approach to free agency since being released by the Dallas Cowboys in April.
He visited with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns, but didn’t sign a contract. Bryant also revealed to reporters Thursday that he had opportunities to work out with other teams, but declined to comment further.
But given the options, what made the New Orleans Saints appealing to the veteran wide receiver?
Turns out the opportunity to play with a future Hall of Famer on a team full of offensive playmakers had plenty to do with Bryant electing to sign a one-year deal.
"For one, who wouldn’t want to play with Drew Brees?" Bryant told reporters. "Not taking away from nobody else, but a guy like Drew Brees. Like I said, you got a guy like Michael Thomas, [Benjamin ] Watson, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram — you got those types of guys — little baby GOATs around here."
Bryant has a point when considering the dynamic supporting cast the Saints possess.
Sure, Byrant produced 531 career catches for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns in eight seasons in Dallas, but he was counted on heavily as one of the primary focal points in the passing attack.
Additionally, Tony Romo and Dak Prescott are highly capable signal-callers. But they won’t be compared any time soon to Brees, who is the league’s all-time career passing and completion leader, among other notable NFL records.
In New Orleans, Bryant won’t be required to do the heavy lifting in the passing game, and that provides less pressure for a player just arriving to the team to produce immediately.
What Bryant needs to do is immerse himself in team meetings and get caught up in the playbook ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"It was kind of like first day of school," Bryant told NFL Network’s Jane Slater. "Having that sit-down with coach Payton got me excited. The guys here got me excited. These guys out here they love ball. They’re fun to talk to. It’s cool."
Whether Bryant plays Sunday remains to be seen, as head coach Sean Payton said Thursday morning that he wanted to evaluate the wide receiver’s progress in practice before making a decision.
Bryant echoed Payton, and didn’t tip his hand if he would suit up and play.
"We’re going to keep that closed right now," Bryant said. "We just still working. We’re going to see what happens."
The Saints have rookie Tre’Quan Smith and second-year pro Austin Carr behind Thomas if Bryant isn’t ready. The Saints also have a dual-threat out of the backfield in Kamara to help out the passing game and the steady presence of Watson at tight end.
So, while it would be good to have Bryant in the lineup just days after his signing, the Saints got to 7-1 without him and could probably afford to hold off another week.
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