When the Raiders traded for Martavis Bryant during Draft Weekend, I was not immediately moved by the deal. First, giving up draft picks for a player with baggage seemed to run counter to what the Raiders established under Reggie McKenzie. Next, Bryant’s role within the offense with Cooper and Nelson appeared murky, at best. Not to mention, the underwhelming, yet well-compensated Seth Roberts still lingers on the roster. However, as days passed, the Bryant deal actually feels like a smart one.
Granted, Martavis Bryant possesses a checkered past. In reality, his circumstances follow him into the present. With long-term banishment hanging over his head, Bryant cannot afford any hiccups. In the past, certain coaches allowed star players to skate. However, the NFL’s substance abuse policy sits there, like a hungry lion, ready to devour years from a player’s career.
Fortunately, for Bryant, he ended up on a team with an iron-fisted head coach, no-nonsense GM, and locker room accountability. While enjoyed some structure in Pittsburgh, the scene in Oakland. The Raiders, specifically Jon Gruden displays no tolerance for overly dramatic wideouts. Remember, he sat Keyshawn Johnson after winning a Super Bowl. Honestly, Bryant has a fraction of a strike left.
In addition to suspensions, Bryant’s penchant for causing locker room stress stopped at the Fort Pitt Bridge, on his way away from Pittsburgh. Bryant’s shading of his teammates and general clownish behavior evaporated the moment he became a Raider. In a locker room with Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, and Bruce Irvin, attitude should remain at the door.
For all of Martavis Bryant’s off-field issues, the fact remains that he is a unique talent. Not too many 6’5″ receivers possess above average long speed and leaping ability. With the Raiders, Bryant presents a matchup quandary for defenses. When Oakland rolls out three-wide sets, a nickel corner will probably line up against Bryant. If Bryant wins off the line and Carr sees him, count on big plays.
If you look at Bryant’s preferred route chart, you will see why the Raiders traded for him. Bryant lives for the fade and vertical routes. Unlike Holton or Andre Holmes, Bryant can sell the double move as a way to get open.
In reality, Martavis Bryant should both thrill and worry fans. While he can serve an electric role in the offense, poor decision-making could derail him before he produces. On the other hand, with the pressure to win immediately, the Raiders needed to roll the dice with him. Now, people will wait to see how this plays out.