The career of wide receiver Antonio Bryant could be in jeopardy because of recurring knee problems that date to the 2009 season, two NFL sources say.
In a surprising move, the Cincinnati Bengals released Bryant on Sunday, a strong indication that Bryant is unlikely to be healthy anytime soon.
"He barely practiced in training camp and now this happens," said a league source with knowledge of Bryant’s knee problems. "The guy can’t stay healthy at this point. He gets to the point that he’s feeling good, then it swells on him again. When that keeps happening, that’s a very strong indication that there are structural problems."
Bryant had offseason surgery on the knee and signed a four-year, $28 million deal with the Bengals in March. He practiced on the opening day of training camp, but didn’t practice again before being let go. Bryant got a $7.85 million signing bonus and would have made another $3 million in base salary had he made the team.
He told reporters during camp that the muscles around the knee weren’t strong enough to support the surgically-repaired joint. This happened after the Bengals’ medical staff saw Bryant before training camp and pronounced him in good enough shape to practice.
Peter Schaffer, Bryant’s agent, said Bryant was not expected to have further surgery and expected Bryant to play again this season.
Schaffer didn’t indicate if he planned to file a grievance against the Bengals for releasing Bryant while he was injured. Such grievances are considered standard in cases like this and both NFL sources said they expect one to be filed.