Lions Expressed Interest in ‘Big, Strong, Fast’ But Often-Suspended WR: Report

Dan Campbell Martavis Bryant

Getty Head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions reportedly expressed interest in signing wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

The Detroit Lions traded for wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones at the NFL trade deadline. But apparently, the Lions weren’t against making another addition at receiver.

NFL insider Jordan Schultz reported on November 7 that the Lions showed interest in recently reinstated free agent wideout Martavis Bryant. The 31-year-old signed a contract to join the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

“The Titans and Lions were both interested in Martavis Bryant,” Schultz wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “He was scheduled to go to Tennessee if there wasn’t a deal with Dallas.”

Schultz didn’t specify if there were plans for Bryant to also visit the Lions. It’s all for not anyway unless a team has any interest in signing Bryant to their active roster.

That’s unlikely given Bryan’s time away from the league. He last played in an NFL football game on November 11, 2018.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Bryant “a big, strong, fast receiver” while discussing the possibility of signing him during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota.

Lions ‘Were Interested’ in WR Martavis Bryant

Like Dallas, the Lions were likely kicking the tires, so to speak, on Bryant because of his 6-foot-4 height, 210-pound frame and electric speed. In his first 21 NFL games from 2014-15, Bryant averaged 17.3 yards per reception and scored 14 touchdowns with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers found him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. He quickly became a diamond in the rough.

But Bryant began experiencing substance-abuse problems early in his second season. The NFL suspended him the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He received another suspension, this time for an entire season, a year later.

After missing the entire 2016 season, Bryant returned to post 50 catches for 603 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2017.

But the Steelers traded him following the season. With the then Oakland Raiders, the NFL suspended Bryant a third time for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement.

Despite applying for reinstatement to the league as early as 2019, the NFL did not reinstate the wideout until November 4, 2023.

How Bryant Could Have Fit With the Lions

Bryant was once a tremendously talented NFL receiver. But given that he hasn’t played in five seasons, it’s hard to view adding him as anything more than a flier.

Adding a flier like Bryant, though, is appealing for a Super Bowl contender who needs help at receiver. The Lions aren’t in desperate need of another wideout, but could use depth at the position.

Like the Cowboys, the Lions only have one wide receiver with more than 25 receptions this season. That’s Amon-Ra St. Brown, who leads the team with 57 catches and 665 receiving yards.

The other Detroit pass catchers with more than 25 catches are both rookies — tight end Sam LaPorta and running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

Lions No. 2 receiver Josh Reynolds is second among the team’s wideouts with 22 catches and 397 receiving yards. Kalif Raymond is third among the team’s receivers with 18 receptions and 231 yards.

Peoples-Jones is expected to provide the depth the Lions need at receiver. He only had 8 receptions for 97 yards in 7 games with the Cleveland Browns this season. But last year, he had 61 catches, 839 yards and 3 touchdowns.

St. Brown, Reynolds, Raymond and Peoples-Jones will likely be a formidable group of receivers for Detroit during the second half of the season. That should especially be the case with LaPorta and Gibbs also significantly contributing to the Lions passing attack.

But Detroit’s reported interest in Bryant clearly indicates that the team is still considering more receiver depth, especially if it can be adding cheaply to the practice squad.

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