Bryant signs four-year contract, wants to further Bengals' success

CINCINNATI -- Antonio Bryant is the latest complementary receiver to Chad Ochocinco.

Bryant signed a four-year deal with the Bengals on Friday, ostensibly replacing Laveranues Coles, who spent the 2009 season with the team, then was released.

Bengals getting busy

The Bengals signed ex-Bucs WR Antonio Bryant, but they also have been active in keeping their own players, such as DT Tank Johnson (right). Follow the moves on the free agency tracker.

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"It was definitely a plus to me that this team really seemed to want me," Bryant said in a conference call. "The interest of the coaches and everyone in the organization made me feel comfortable. It's always easy to go out and perform when you're wanted as opposed to just being there to be there."

Bryant comes off a season in which he complained about a diminished role in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense. After recovering from surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee last year, Bryant had 39 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns.

The previous year, Bryant revived his career after being out of football in 2007, finishing with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns. The Bucs placed their franchise tag on Bryant, assuring him a salary of $9.88 million last season. He became a free agent after 2009, and the Bengals, who also have contacted Terrell Owens, signed him one week into free agency for about $28 million over four years.

"You've got a dominant team that played well enough to be in the playoffs, and hopefully I can be an addition, as well as some guys to further that success," Bryant said.

Cincinnati is adamant about improving a passing game that ranked 26th in the NFL last season.

"The players will notice the difference," Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said on the team's Web site. "It's not as big as the changes we made in the running game last year, but the passing game is getting the same kind of attention we gave the running game in the offseason last year.

"We're looking to match our quarterback's strengths with our receivers in order to get bigger plays downfield."

Bryant, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top collegiate receiver while a sophomore at Pitt, has been with four NFL teams. His career has been hampered by a history of headstrong behavior -- most notably a 2004 post-practice tirade directed at Bill Parcells, in which Bryant threw his sweaty jersey at the then-Dallas Cowboys coach.

Bryant was sent to anger-management counseling and eventually traded to the Cleveland Browns, with whom he had his first 1,000-yard season in 2005 despite falling out of favor with the coaching staff. The San Francisco 49ers, desperate to add a top receiver, signed Bryant in spite of concerns about his character.

In December 2006, Bryant received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

"Football is a testosterone sport. It's not ballet, know what I mean?" Bryant said. "I'm an edgy guy. I'm very edgy, but I think every player has to have some type of edge. That's what defines your competitive nature and how you approach the game.

"I'm a little bit more physical than probably what they're used to. You have to have each side of the scale to balance out the situation in the offense. I know there's a lot of ins and outs in the offense, and what I can do is bring a little more toughness to the game."

The Bengals also signed wide receiver/kick returner Chris Davis, a third-year pro from Florida State, on Friday. The former Tennessee Titan sat out last season after reaching an injury settlement.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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