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No regrets: Martavis Bryant trade a risk 'well worth taking' for Raiders

Scott Bair
NBC Sports BayArea

ALAMEDA – Martavis Bryant cost a third-round pick to acquire. The Raiders essentially threw it away on Saturday afternoon.

The troubled receiver was waived when rosters were trimmed to 53, a surprising turn considering his immense and unquestioned physical skill. It was also foreshadowed in some ways by Jon Gruden's criticism.

He dubbed Bryant the "white tiger," an elusive sort who missed several training camp practices with headaches. He also said Bryant wasn't picking up the offense well and needed to learn multiple receiver positions.

Bryant didn't see many team reps in practices open to the media, didn't make a strong impact in games, and ultimately got cut.

Gruden doesn't regret the trade, nor did he say it was a miscalculation.

"I don't think so," Gruden said in a Sunday press conference. "I think the guy is a superb talent. The guy has great talent. We released our second-round draft choice last year and the year before and the year before that. Not everything is a perfect science. We'll be criticized for that. But it was a risk that was well worth taken."

There was risk involved acquiring a troubled receiver who had shaky standing with the NFL as a repeat offender of the league's substance abuse policy conditionally reinstated before the 2017 season.

An ESPN report from Saturday said he had a suspension looming that is subject to appeal. At Bryant's stage, it could be banishment from the league where a player can't be reinstated for at least a year.

Gruden said a possible suspension didn't impact the Bryant cut. "Not really," anyway. He said first-year receiver Keon Hatcher took it from him.

Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts, Hatcher, Johnny Holton and Dwayne Harris form the Raiders receiver corps. For now, anyaway. Raiders have agreed on terms of a contract with former Cincinnati receiver Brandon LaFell, according to his representatives.

That signing wouldn't have been necessary had Bryant earned a roster spot.

"We expected more from him," Gruden said. "He did not make the team because Keon Hatcher came on, and other players outperformed him. We covered that during training camp, when he missed extended amounts of time. You saw Hatcher the other night. He did it in the game. He has done it on the practice field. He can play multiple positions and can play on special teams. We tried to keep the five or six best receivers we had."

During this year's NFL draft, Gruden said Bryant was essentially part of the Raiders draft class. He's right. Some selections don't work out. Using a third-round pick certainly didn't. Perhaps we get Martavis again next year and we can get the best out of him."

 

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