The Detroit Lions announced on Monday they have released defensive end Armonty Bryant. Bryant had just finished serving his four-game suspension last week—his third suspension in less than a year. The Lions chose to keep him on the commissioner’s exemption list for a week, before finally coming to a decision to let him go rather than promoting him to the active roster.
Bryant leaves the team after spending just over a year on the roster. He was released by the Browns just after serving his first suspension and was immediately picked up by Detroit. For the next four weeks, Bryant picked up 3.0 sacks in four games. However, that’s when Bryant faced his second suspension—his first for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. He would only play one more game to finish the season.
He received his third suspensions back in July, this time, again, for violating the substance abuse policy. However, now that the suspension has been lifted, the Lions decided not to keep him around.
If you’re wondering why the Lions bothered to keep him all this time, it’s a relatively common practice for NFL teams to hold onto suspended players just in case. They do not occupy a space on the roster, and they represent an emergency option for injuries. The Browns did the same with Bryant after his first suspension, and the Lions did something very similar with Andrew Quarless, who was released once his suspension was up last season.
However, there was some belief that Bryant was going to stick around after his suspension. The Lions have had issues generating pressure from the edges, given that Kerry Hyder was lost for the season and Ezekiel Ansah is continuing to struggle through injuries.
Detroit added veteran George Johnson a few weeks ago to help add some depth to the unit, but in three weeks of playing time, Johnson has just two tackles and zero sacks.
But it appears the Lions are content with the unit they have already. Unless there is a trade or signing in the works, this is the defensive line they’ll have for the foreseeable future.