Cincinnati had agreed a four-year deal worth $28 million with Bryant in March, according to local media, but a knee injury kept him out of the team's pre-season games and the Bengals confirmed his release on their website (bengals.com) on Sunday.
Bryant was initially chosen by the team over Owens after both players worked out in March, however, Bryant's inability to recover from injury, and the signing of Owens in July, led to the team going back on their original decision.
A six-time Pro Bowl selection, Owens, 36, made 55 catches for the Buffalo Bills last season.
Cincinnati will open their regular season on September 12 at the New England Patriots.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Edited by Patrick Johnston)