Martavis Bryant, the wide receiver acquired for a third-round draft pick and released at the cutdown to 53 players, returned to the Raiders on Tuesday, with sources confirming reports that originated with the NFL Network.
According to another NFL Network report, Bryant would be signed to one-year contract and could play as soon as Sunday against the Denver Broncos.
Bryant told Pittsburgh-based ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler he was pleased to be back, saying he was “thankful for the opportunity to take care of his family.” Bryant was with the Steelers from 2014-17.
When Bryant was released, coach Jon Gruden and general manager Reggie McKenzie said it was for “competitive” reasons and not because of a looming year-long drug suspension from the league for violation of the policy on substance abuse.
As recently as Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bryant was facing a year-long suspension.
The first weekend of the season passed without the NFL announcing a suspension, leaving open the possibility Bryant had won his case on appeal. Regardless, Bryant would be eligible to play until discipline is imposed.
The Raiders have never acknowledged persistent reports about the possible suspension. Bryant has already been suspended twice for substance abuse issues. He missed four games in 2015 and spent time at a rehabilitation center and missed the entire 2016 season for a second offense.
After being reinstated, Bryant caught 50 passes for 603 yards and three touchdowns for Pittsburgh last season. The Raiders traded a third-round pick, No. 79 overall, to acquire Bryant on April 26.
“We expected more from him ... some other players outperformed him,” Gruden said nine days ago. “He missed extended amounts of time.”
Bryant missed practice time during training camp with what the Raiders called “headaches.” The absences led to Gruden referring to Bryant on one occasion as the “white tiger” because of how rare it was to see him on the field.
Still, Gruden talked about Bryant’s speed and called him “a superb talent” and said “Perhaps we can get Martavis again next year and we can get the best out of him.”
The Raiders have not confirmed Bryant’s return.