Although I have been away from NFL news in the past five days, as soon as I found myself returning to the likes of ESPN.com and NFL.com, I immediately found myself staring down the barrel at yet another blockbuster headline this preseason.
In a time that sees the Cincinnati Bengals surprisingly amongst the AFC favorites at this point in time, an uncanny twist in their postseason quest has unfolded that has left just about everybody scratching their heads in terms of why this event has occurred at all.
For those of you that are unaware of this groundbreaking news, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Antonio Bryant was released by the team earlier today, and although many factors are at play here, the most reasonable one seems to be due to Bryant's consistent injury list.
However, this issue only makes up for half the story as a serious question could be directed toward head coach Marvin Lewis, in regards to why the team went ahead and signed such a blockbuster and wanted free agent such as Antonio Bryant, only to release him in some kind of "We have Terrell Owens now, and you are no longer needed" style attitude.
For the most part, the Bengals knew what they were getting. Antonio Bryant hasn't been an angel by any stretch of the imagination, and during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lets just say that any discipline taught during his schooling years had certainly strayed a little as soon as he entered the league.
But are the Bengals really willing to place so much on the seemingly dynamic duo of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, and allow for a first class wide receiver such as Antonio Bryant to slip through the net and arrive at perhaps a less deserving team?
Sure it may come back and bite them in the butt, yet Marvin Lewis and his coaching staff feel like they have made the right move.
Still I can't help but feel for Antonio Bryant. I know he hasn't been the most cooperative player in history, and his constant knee injury woes have made a handful of coaches sweat liters over the years, but when it comes right down to it, this type of player deserves much more respect than to be released two weeks before the opening game.
Unfortunately for all Bryant fans like myself though, that's just the way it goes, and while we're on the issue, we may as well discuss where this controversial player is heading in the coming weeks or months.
Similar to the entire offseason, the Raiders once again find themselves in free agent talk, as they hope to use the right bait this time and snag a great wide receiver.
If there is a team that needs a wide receiver, it's Oakland. Jason Campbell looked rusty yesterday against San Francisco, and as much as Al Davis has transformed this team, a number one wide receiver would be nice for such a questionable passer.
The issue with this possibility is whether or not Bryant himself would be willing to make the move to Oakland. The Raiders do have a tendency to eat up and spit out talented players, and although Bryant may have to take what he can get, surely this will be in the back of his mind.
Right now the Raiders are front runners to gain Bryant, so just keep an eye out.
Since the beginning of preseason, some obvious issues have began to come forward on the Panthers offense. Firstly, there is the quarterback issue, as neither Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen have looked overly great. Secondly, there is the issue of targets, as Steve Smith is of course a great weapon to have, but someone on the opposite side of the field would be suitable.
The Panthers are an underrated option to gain Antonio Bryant, as it appears that many other needy teams are in the hunt to gain him. Still, Carolina may just interest Bryant purely due to the fact that they do possess Steve Smith, and the idea of the two together may just rivals what the Bengals have been able to muster up recently.
I think everybody knows that the Panthers are in need of some serious spark, so why not go and sign a guy that can bring just that? It makes sense to me.
Like Oakland, the Redskins could do with a trustworthy guy. Sure Antonio Bryant isn't the type of wide receiver that the Redskins normally aim for, but he would be a suitable target for Donovan McNabb, especially when the team meet up with some of the East's tougher opponents.
However, as good as this all sounds, the issue of Bryant's discipline comes into play. We've all seen how strict Mike Shanahan has been toward Albert Haynesworth's problems recently, and although Bryant has been on the straight and narrow, any slip ups wouldn't be tolerated.
As of now the Redskins wide receiver issue isn't the most worrying problem right now, and realistically the Raiders could do with him a whole lot more, but still, if the Redskins can gain some talent, it would surely help their chances.
Most importantly, coaxing Donovan McNabb would be all that much easier if a target like Bryant was on the team. McNabb was brilliant at times with DeSean Jackson by his side, and there's no reason we can't see the same link up between these two.
Mike Shanahan may not go for it, but the fans just might.
Concluding, For Now
It almost feels as if we have re winded three weeks and are back in the thick of free agent talk. But here we are two weeks from the regular season, and the Bengals have pulled a fast one on Antonio Bryant.
Don't get me wrong, this whole scenario is partially due to Bryant's poor displays recently, and the fact that both Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley have looked much better in the past three games.
When it comes to where the now free agent will land, well it's anyone's guess. If your looking for the most likely though, Oakland, Carolina and Washington all are favorable.
Where will Bryant land at the end of the day?
Well, his history shows that he has no trouble finding a team. However, it is now dire strait time, as time is ticking, and this whole scenario has placed a bad light on the once reliable yet controversial receiver.
Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.