What would be the point of the Bengals releasing Antonio Bryant now?

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Antonio Bryant  watches play against the  Washington Redskins   at FedEx Field, September 27, 2004 in Landover, Maryland. The Cowboys defeated the Redskins 21 to 18.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

A report by Newsday’s Bob Glauber has me a little confused.

According to Glauber (or at least Newsday’s headline), the Bengals are “ready to release Antonio Bryant.” Glauber writes that there is “plenty of speculation” that the Bengals are ready to cut bait on Bryant, who has been limited to just one training camp practice because of knee problems.

The idea makes sense if Bryant was playing on a cheap one-year deal, but he’s not. He signed a four-year, $28 million contract in March, which included $8.25 million in guaranteed money. They’ve already paid him $7 million thus far, so why wouldn’t they see if Bryant’s knee could hold up at the start of the season? It’s not like they need the roster space at the moment, seeing as how they only need to cut five more players by August 31 to meet the NFL’s roster guidelines.

The only way this makes sense is if the Bengals were convinced that Bryant wouldn’t be healthy enough to play this season. But even then, they could place him on IR, use the roster spot for a healthy receiver and then hope Bryant is healthy heading into next year. I don’t see how coming to terms on an injury settlement helps the Bengals at this moment, unless Bryant is walking around Cincinnati tipping over garbage cans and punching babies and the team just wants to get rid of him.

Considering he worked out on Wednesday, it would make sense for the Bengals to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Bryant’s health. There’s no reason to eat $7 million and not at least see if he will be healthy enough to suit up at some point this season.

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The Bengals, T.O. and Antonio Bryant’s knee

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18: Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills stands on the sideline during the game against the New York Jets on October 18, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Bengals signed Terrell Owens to a one-year, $2 million contract on Tuesday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In other news, Marvin Lewis also became the spokesperson for Excedrin Migraine.

I like the signing. Actually to be more specific, I like the fit. T.O. could have been toxic to Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez’s development had the Rams or Jets (two teams that had shown interest in the receiver over the last couple of days) signed him. But in Cincinnati he’ll play for a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer who won’t take his guff and with Pacman Jones, Matt Jones and Tank Johnson already on the roster, there’s no way Owens could pollute the Bengals’ locker room more than it has been over the last couple of years.

But the biggest issue stemming from this signing is what it means to Antonio Bryant. Obviously the knee injury that slowed him in spring practices is still a major concern or else they wouldn’t have signed T.O. Think about it, if they were seriously interested in Owens then why didn’t they sign him before now? What has changed since March (or April, or June, or the first 26 days in July) other than Bryant’s injury worsening?

The other issue is that the Bengals signed Bryant to a four-year, $28 million contract despite there being concerns about his health. He underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee last August and it continued to bother him throughout the season. Yet Cincinnati still gave him a multi-year deal and he’s likely to slide to No. 3 on their depth chart with the signing of Owens.

Considering the Bengals will pound the ball on the ground again this year, they should be fine with Chad Ochocinco, T.O. and a hobbled Bryant in the passing game. (I’m also high on rookie Jordan Shipley, who was nothing short of outstanding as Colt McCoy’s top target at Texas.) But the signing of Owens raises major questions about why the Bengals decided to pay Bryant $7 million a year without being more cautious about his knee injury.

T.O. finally receiving serious interest, as Rams make a push for WR

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 22:  Reciever Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills celebrates a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports that the Rams are serious about signing Terrell Owens to a contract, presumably because they want to stunt the growth of rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. (Just goofin’!…Kind of.)

The Rams asked Owens through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, if he would consider a serious contract proposal, even though they are not considered a playoff contender. Rosenhaus told the team Owens would definitely consider it, sources said.

Apparently the Bengals are also still in the mix for T.O.

The Cincinnati Bengals, as reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, are also engaged in talks with Owens. The Bengals signed free-agent receiver Antonio Bryant during the offseason but Bryant has struggled so far. According to a team source, that has motivated the Bengals to take another look at Owens.

One source said the Rams have gotten very aggressive in their pursuit of Owens and it’s possible that Owens will sign with the Rams or Bengals within the next 48 to 72 hours.

However, the Bengals still have given no indication they’re ready to offer a contract. They want to get a good look at their young wide receivers and have five preseason games to do it. They need some of those guys to play special teams. Chad Ochocinco, Bryant and Owens would not be special teams-type guys, so it’s uncertain how quickly the Bengals would react if they sensed he was about to sign with someone else.

The names listed on the Rams’ receiving depth chart aren’t going to stand out: Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard, which is why signing T.O. makes sense on the surface. But believe it or not, all three of those wideouts still have a lot of upside and if they can stay healthy, I for one believe that St. Louis could have a solid receiving corps in 2010 and beyond. I wouldn’t view signing T.O. as a bad thing necessarily, I just don’t think it would be necessary for a team like the Rams.

The Bengals, on the other hand, make more sense. There wouldn’t be much concern that T.O. would damage the team’s locker room (really, how more can it be damaged?) and Cincy has a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer who could deal with a personality like the one Owens has. Plus, a trio of Ochocinco, T.O. and Antonio Bryant would, at the very least, be an upgrade over the unit the Bengals had last year. Not that T.O. is an elite receiver or even a great No. 2, but he could be a decent complementary piece in an improved Cincinnati passing game.

T.O. or Bryant? Bengals trying to decide.

According to beat writer Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals had a positive meeting with free agent receiver Antonio Bryant today and even went as far as to push Terrell Owens’ visit back to Wednesday.

According to Reedy, Bryant is the team’s first choice at receiver, but is there room for both players in Cincinnati?

“Why wouldn’t there be? I think this is the year of no salary cap, if I’m correct. Hey, why wouldn’t there be?,” said Ochocinco, who was also talking about his upcoming appearance on Dancing With The Stars. “Let’s load it up, you know! We can get back to that firepower offense we were back in ‘05 and ‘06, when we were throwing it all over the place. Even though that’s not the makeup of our team right now, I think it can help. Period.”

However when asked if he had to choose which one, Ochocinco said: “I mean, it’s whatever. Both of them can help us.”

Neither player was very productive in 2009, although at least Bryant has an excuse because he battled injuries for most of the year. He’s also seven years younger, can still stretch a defense and is still efficient when healthy. It’s no wonder why the Bengals prefer him over T.O.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Training Camp Notes: Smith, Sanders, Bowe

Carolina Panthers:
Receiver Steve Smith is expected to miss at least two weeks with a strained shoulder after suffering the injury in practice on Monday. Dwayne Jarrett is expected to fill in for Smith while he’s out, which is kind of like going from a corvette to a station wagon. (Charlotte Observer)

Indianapolis Colts:
Safety Bob Sanders is expected to meet with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews soon. Sanders had another clean up procedure done on his knee this offseason and the Colts don’t know when he’ll be healthy again. He hasn’t practiced or played in game since Week 16 of last year. (Indianapolis Star)

Kansas City Chiefs:
Receiver Dwayne Bowe isn’t currently practicing with the Chiefs’ starters and apparently is in new head coach Todd Haley’s doghouse. Haley appears to be making an example of Bowe, who hasn’t responded well to KC’s new disciplined training habits. (Kansas City Star)

New England Patriots:
Tom Brady has yet to miss one practice since returning to action following ACL and MCL surgery. Brady continues to work out with a brace on his knee, although he’ll likely have to play with the brace the rest of his career. (Boston Globe)

Tampa Bay Bucs:
Receiver Antonio Bryant will be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Bryant could miss the entire preseason, but is expected to be healthy by Week 1. Still, the Bucs are thin at receiver and are implementing a new offense so Bryant’s injury is of concern. (Pewter Report)

Earnest Graham is listed ahead of Derrick Ward on Tampa’s depth chart, but considering the Bucs paid Ward like a starter this offseason, it’s wise not to read too much into this. (Buccaneers.com)

Miami Dolphins:
Former Hawaii product Davone Bess has been starting ahead of Greg Camarillo in Miami. Carmarillo appears to be completely recovered from ACL surgery, but Miami likes Bess’ speed and playmaking ability and see him as a starting flanker. (Miami Herald)

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