I'm often hard on the team's front office - it's impossible not be at times - but credit goes out to them for being aggressive and landing the best WR on the free agent market.
Yes, Terrell Owens, I said the best receiver on the free agent market. Owens is 36, while Bryant is 29. Although no one takes care of their body better than Owens (hello HGH!) there is no getting around the fact that he is an old wideout by anyone's standards and doesn't have many years left. His decline as a player has clearly already commenced.
The Bengals already have one nearly-over-the-hill WR in Chad Ochocinco, 32, and the team certainly didn't want to add someone four years his elder if they could avoid it. I agree with this piece on ProFootballTalk.com that the Bengals likely used Owens as leverage to sign Bryant. (And Owens was a fallback option for one year if the team had been unable to sign Bryant.) One thing that I disagree with PFT on is I believe the team had sincere interest in Brandon Marshall, but the Bengals did not want to give up premium draft picks (at least a first-rounder and maybe a 1 and 3) even for a player as special as Marshall.
If I were rating the current talent level of the three WRs that the Bengals considered this offseason, they would go Marshall, Bryant and Owens in order.
And yes, it's also interesting that all three of them have a reputation of being a headcase - just like Ochocinco.
I think Chad and Bryant will mesh well together as Chad as always gotten along with his fellow wideouts. Which leads me to an excerpt from the earlier-mentioned Bryant piece on PFT:
"It's the same basic package the Ravens gave to receiver Anquan Boldin last week, and it's roughly the third tier of wideout contracts beneath Larry Fitzgerald ($10 million per year) and Randy Moss and Roy Williams ($9 million)," editor Mike Florio wrote. "By all appearances, the Bengals flirted with Terrell Owens to placate receiver Chad Ochocinco, and possibly to leverage Bryant. We also think that internal discussions regarding a possible run at Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall were aimed at knocking down the expectations of both of the unrestricted free agents with whom the Bengals negotiated.
"In the end, it's a big contract by Bengals' standards - and it instantly makes Ochocinco second fiddle in Cincinnati."
In terms of the last seven words of that excerpt, Florio couldn't be further off. Ochocinco will never be second fiddle to anyone while with the Bengals. Well, unless you are talking in financial terms (he will make $5 million in 2010) but as far as media exposure, statistics and all the rest, Chad will still be the Bengals' No. 1 receiver and Bryant will be the No. 2.
But he's going to be a damn good No. 2.