Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ventell Bryant, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, was suspended by the NFL on Wednesday for the first two games of the 2021 regular season after violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Bryant can participate in Carolina’s training camp practices and preseason contests before his ban goes into effect. He’ll then be eligible to return on Sept. 20, ahead of the Panthers’ lone primetime contest of the year, Week 3 at Houston.
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Details of Arrest
The incident that triggered Bryant’s suspension occurred in the early morning hours of March 11, when the 24-year-old was busted on suspicion of driving under the influence — a misdemeanor — in Tampa, Fla., his hometown. Bryant was pulled over for driving without headlights; police placed him in handcuffs after he “exhibited several clues of impairment and admitted to drinking several margaritas,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
Per the report, Bryant failed a field sobriety test as his blood-alcohol samples — .102 and .099 — exceeded the legal limit of .08. He was released from the jail the following morning, posting $500 bond.
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Background with Cowboys
Bryant entered the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019, signing as an undrafted free agent out of Temple, where he nabbed 173 passes for 2,444 yards and 10 touchdowns across 48 career games. The 6-foot-3 wideout played in three preseason games for the Bengals, nabbing 14 receptions for 154 yards.
He was released at final cuts that year and subsequently snagged by the Cowboys, who signed him to their practice squad. Bryant ended up making 12 regular-season appearances for Dallas, catching one pass for 15 yards. He was a bigger contributor on special teams, where he logged 201 snaps compared to 23 on offense.
Bryant was retained into 2020, despite his arrest, and even landed on the 55-man roster. He was sent to injured reserve, however, after straining his PCL during the club’s intrasquad August scrimmage. The Cowboys waived Bryant in October, reaching an injury settlement.
Recovered, Bryant signed to the Panthers’ practice squad in December and inked a reserve/futures contract the following month. He’s listed as Carolina’s No. 7 WR on its offseason depth chart, behind the likes of Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, David Moore, Terrace Marshall, Omar Bayless, and Brandon Zylstra.
Gallup ‘Unlikely’ to Play for Dallas in 2022?
The Athletic’s Jon Machota predicted in a recent mailbag that veteran Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup, who’s entering a contract year, is “unlikely” to return in 2022, due largely to Gallup’s future free-agent value and, consequently, the cap-strapped organization likely prioritizing $100 million alpha dog Amari Cooper and fast-rising star CeeDee Lamb.
“I’d say it’s unlikely that he’s on the Cowboys next season,” Machota wrote Friday. “There’s just not enough salary cap space to pay Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Gallup all at the top of the wide receiver market. Now, if Gallup is willing to take some type of team-friendly deal, sure, he could be back. There’s also a scenario where Cooper deals with a bunch of injuries or takes a step back and they move on from him and end up paying Gallup. But coming off the season Cooper just had, that doesn’t appear to be a great bet. Lamb is 100 percent not going anywhere. They will do whatever they have to keep him around well beyond his rookie contract. So if Gallup has a big year, which many of us expect, there will be teams looking to give him big money next March on the open market. And I think it would be tough for anyone to pass that up.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL