WR Antonio Bryant ranked second in the NFL with 18.3 yards per reception in 2006
For every 16 games in an NFL career that was interrupted before it could really hit its stride, Antonio Bryant has averaged 800 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
That kind of production could give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' receiving corps a significant boost.
That was the idea Monday as the Buccaneers announced the signing of Bryant, a free agent who most recently played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2006. As is team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
The 6-1, 192-pound Bryant is a talented and athletic receiver, the Fred Biletnikoff Award winner as the top receiver in the nation during his 2000 sophomore season at Pittsburgh. He entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick (63rd overall) of the Dallas Cowboys in 2002.
In 77 NFL games (56 starts), Bryant has snared 250 receptions for 3,837 yards and 19 touchdowns. In his last complete season, with the Cleveland Browns in 2005, he topped the 1,000-yard mark, grabbing 69 passes for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns. Bryant sports an impressive career mark of 15.3 yards per catch, indicating that he is a serious downfield threat. His seven career 100-yard games are further evidence of the same.
As a rookie in 2002, Bryant caught 44 passes for 733 yards and a career-best six touchdowns for the Cowboys, averaging 16.7 yards per reception. After a 39-catch season in 2003, Bryant clashed with Dallas Head Coach Bill Parcells and was traded to Cleveland five games into the 2004 campaign.
Bryant signed with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent before the 2006 season. In his one season by the bay, Bryant caught 40 passes in 14 games, racking up 733 yards to lead the 49ers and posting a career-best 18.3 yards per reception, second-best in the NFL. The 49ers released him just before the start of free agency in 2007 and he did not play in the league last fall.
The Bucs are likely to explore several avenues in order to add punch to their receiving corps in 2008. Ike Hilliard led the Bucs with 62 catches in 2007 and Joey Galloway had a team-leading 1,014 yards and six touchdowns, but no other wide receiver had more than 22 receptions or one score.
Bryant turned 27 on Sunday. He is a native of Miami.