The Ravens have signed free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant to their practice squad after a second workout, the team announced Tuesday.
Bryant, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, earlier Tuesday alluded to the impending move, writing on Twitter, “Put a shield over what you love and never give up … #flocknation #charmcity.” He also said, “My emotions running high right now... I’m thankful...I can’t stop crying.”
In a corresponding move, the Ravens released safety Marcus Gilchrist from the practice squad. A former second-round pick by the Chargers, Gilchrist played at least 30% of the defensive snaps in the past two games against the Bengals and Eagles and also contributed on special teams, recording three tackles.
The Ravens in August hosted Bryant, listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, for a workout but the former Dallas Cowboys star struggled with his conditioning, according to a source. The team held another workout with Bryant last week.
Bryant, the No. 24 overall pick from the 2010 NFL draft, has amassed over 7,000 career receiving yards and 73 receiving touchdowns but hasn’t played in a regular-season game since the end of the 2017 season. His 73 receiving touchdowns from 2010 to 2017 ranked second in the NFL during that span behind New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (76).
“He’s thriving and licking his chops for the opportunity to play with a team like the Ravens, who run the ball so well, because that does strengthen his game,” Bryant’s trainer David Robinson, a Dallas-based specialist, said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun after a workout with the Ravens in August. “He’s an intermediate-route runner, 50-50 jump-ball guy. So he’s going to get those type of matchups — slant routes, outs, fades. He’s going to get the matchups that he really wants — and how he made a living in Dallas — being in the Ravens offense. So he’s excited and feels that basically that’s the best fit for him.”
In 2018, after being released by the Cowboys, Bryant turned down a multiyear offer from the Ravens, preferring a more lucrative one-year deal. He ultimately waited until November to sign, joining the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal worth up to a reported $1.75 million. Just two days after signing, however, Bryant suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury during practice.
Robinson said in August that he had no doubts about Bryant’s physical fitness, noting that during a recent visit to a local gym’s basketball court, Bryant was “going down and jamming, full court, dunking.”
With Bryant, 31, on the practice squad, the Ravens could slowly get him acclimated to the offensive system and then elevate him to the active roster, or sign him outright to the 53-man roster, in hopes of boosting a passing offense that ranks second-to-last in passing yards per game.
“That’s kind of like an O.G.-type [original gangster] guy,” tight end Mark Andrews said Monday. “He’s been around the league for a long, long time. … I’m excited to meet him. I’m excited to obviously get around him, hopefully, and just learn. Obviously, [you want to] just learn everything you can from a guy like that just because they’ve done it and they’ve been there. So it’s super exciting for me.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jonas Shaffer contributed to this article.