Biggs: Bryant says free-agent status will affect him playing

Antonio Bryant said his status as an impending free agent will affect his decision to play on a balky left knee Sunday when rookie quarterback Josh Freeman makes his first start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Green Bay Packers at Raymond James Stadium.

“I don't have no contract,” Bryant told Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune in regards to his status beyond this season. “It don't do me no good to play for a game or two and then be right back and have to sit down again.”

Bryant has had issues since August when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He’s complained about it since although team officials have suggested it’s a matter of playing through some pain, not making the knee worse.

Bryant, who is questionable after missing a second day of practice on Friday, is concerned about the longterm implications, however.

“If I feel good then I'm going to run out there and be like, `Hey let's go,’’’ he said. “It's all about going to the stadium and coach will let me know. If he lets the dogs out I'm good, if not, hey, it's about longevity.’’

The Bucs placed the franchise tag on Bryant for this season, paying him $9.8 million after he led them with 83 receptions for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He’s had a history of being a malcontent and the club wasn’t comfortable sinking money into him longterm. His production this season with the knee issue and some poor quarterback play has been almost nonexistent. Bryant has 16 catches for 229 yards and two scores.

He’s blaming the plane ride back from London for his knee acting up, saying his quad muscle shrunk and he’s battled knee pain since.

The Bucs need to give Freeman all the help they can muster. Bryant, when healthy, is easily the best weapon for the offense. For Freeman’s sake, hopefully the dogs are let out.

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