BEREA, OH (AP) — Dez Bryant’s going to meet with the Browns. Depending on how things go, he could stay awhile.
The free agent wide receiver has scheduled a visit with Cleveland on Thursday, and the anticipated stopover could lead to the three-time Pro Bowler signing with a team craving more playmakers.
Bryant, who released by the Dallas Cowboys in April after eight seasons, has shown previous interest in joining the Browns. Last week, Bryant posted on Twitter that he intended to speak with the team and a Browns spokesman confirmed the sides will talk later this week.
But while Bryant would certainly be a talent upgrade for a team coming off a 0-16 season, Browns coach Hue Jackson said it’s vital to make sure he fits with Cleveland’s culture.
“It’s not just a given,” Jackson said following Tuesday’s practice. “I think you have to work through whatever conversations we have and feel good about it.”
Cleveland needs receiving help and receiver Jarvis Landry and quarterback Tyrod Taylor have lobbied for Bryant, who has 531 career receptions for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns.
But the 29-year-old Bryant has baggage, and the Browns have to be sure he’s not only committed to them, but that he won’t be a distraction. Bryant frequently clashed with Dallas coaches and he recently went on a Twitter rant criticizing former teammates.
Jackson said the team will be prepared to ask Bryant the appropriate questions.
“We do all of our homework prior to (a visit), and you have very open and candid conversations with guys about what your locker room is, how your team is run, how we go about doing things and see if it fits,” he said following Tuesday’s practice. “The player has to be honest, and we have to be honest about what our expectations are. You just lay it out, and I think that’s the only way you can do it at this time.”
The Browns have been in the market for another receiver since camp opened.
Former Pro Bowler Josh Gordon has been absent to focus on his health and the team doesn’t know when he’ll be back. Cleveland recently traded former first-round pick Corey Coleman to Buffalo and there are still questions about whether rookie Antonio Callaway can be counted on because of his background and recently being cited for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license.
Bryant clearly has the talent to help the Browns, who now have to weigh the risk.
Bryant is believed to have other options, but he could be enticed to join Landry, who isn’t sure if Cleveland has enough for his friend.
“We’re just trying to figure out if he wants to be here,” Landry said. “Then obviously we’re open arms and we’d love to have him. He’d be a great addition to our team and our offense for sure.”
Bryant had 69 catches for 838 yards and six TDs last season, below his usual standards. His last 1,000-yard season was in 2014.