Dez Bryant is back in the NFL, officially. After signing the legendary Dallas Cowboys receiver to the practice squad in late October, the Baltimore Ravens have elevated him to the active roster — per the league’s transaction wire. This means Bryant could see his debut with the Ravens come in Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts, and that would mark a long journey for the former All-Pro receiver, who has been conditioning feverishly for a long time now to land another shot in the league. 

Bryant wasted no time expressing himself following the Ravens decision to activate him.

“I told you I’m covered confident and thankful,” Bryant said, via Twitter. “I don’t care who hate[s] it.”

Despite his record-setting career in North Texas, the 32-year-old has been without a job following his release from the club in 2017, but it was due to both choice and injury. The three-time Pro Bowler immediately signed on with the New Orleans Saints following his release from the Cowboys, but suffered a torn Achilles and has been out of the league since, until he and the Ravens came to terms in October 2020. Needless to say, it’s been an emotional journey for Bryant, whose feelings poured out after the signing.

“My emotions running high right now,” he said, via Twitter. “I’m thankful. I can’t stop crying.”

It’s been a winding road for Bryant to get to Baltimore, but it’s finally come together. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver initially got a multi-year offer from the Ravens in 2017, but instead opted to sign the aforementioned one-year deal with the Saints, citing his wish to re-establish himself as one of the best in the league before committing to a long-term deal with an NFL team. In August ahead of the 2020 season, the Ravens would revisit signing Bryant, flying him in for a workout that didn’t immediately yield an offer. 

As for his initial decision to pass on Baltimore in 2017, he’s previously explained his mind state wasn’t where it should’ve been.

“[The Ravens] didn’t want that [version of] Dez Bryant,” he wrote this past January in response to a Ravens fan who pointed out the previous multi-year offer. “I wasn’t there mentally.” 

He is now though, and despite his wish to return “home” to the Cowboys, he also listed the Ravens as one of three “dream” destinations in his bid to return to the NFL. 

“My dream goals: I want to suit up in the blue and silver, the black and gold or black and purple,” he said. 

That dream has now come true, and Bryant is looking forward to proving he still has tread on his tires for a team with the reigning league MVP at quarterback. A tandem of Bryant and Lamar Jackson could be an exciting one, and the signing also likely puts Baltimore out of any consideration for Antonio Brown, whom Jackson lobbied for previously. Bryant doesn’t bring the baggage Brown would, and if he’s even remotely close to form, this could be a steal for the Ravens. 

And as for Jackson, he’s champing at the bit to see Bryant in game action.

“Oh man, he’s a great route runner, strong hands,” said the reigning league MVP, via USA Today.”He’s dialed into the playbook. He’s always asking me questions about the playbook – stuff like that. He wants to compete. 

“I just can’t wait until he gets out there with us on Sundays and fully practices with us.”

Bryant departed the Cowboys after racking up 7,459 yards and a franchise-best 73 touchdowns, and he grabbed 838 yards with six touchdowns on his way out the door. He’ll need to knock off some rust, no doubt, but the Ravens like what he might still bring to the table three years after initially trying to make him one of their weapons. The Ravens will face the Cowboys on Dec. 3, and that matchup just became that much more interesting.

But, for now, it’s the Colts who might be forced to defend him first.

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