Martavis Bryant has been nothing but all talk and nothing to show for it. I wanted to talk about my thoughts on Bryant and the situations that have recently risen, but first I wanted to give a timeline and some perspective on his career thus far.
Chapter 1: Drafted (2014)
Martavis Bryant was an unknown when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. It was known that Bryant was a high ceiling prospect with raw tools but nobody could have predicted how quickly he would surpass expectations on the field. Mike Mayock slotted the Clemson product as his 13th best wide receiver of the class.
Chapter 2: Rookie Season (2014-2015)
Due to an inconsistent training camp and underwhelming preseason, Bryant spent the first six games of his NFL career inactive. Bryant did suffer a mild A/C sprain in his last preseason game that may have been a factor in him being inactive. In the Week 7 game against the Houston Texans, Bryant’s first career reception went for a 35-yard touchdown. This began the incline of Bryant’s career.
Two weeks later, Bryant would earn his first start. He would haul in three catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns. The next week, Bryant would record his sixth touchdowns in four career games. Bryant was on a tear and was taking the league by storm while earning respect and trust among teammates and coaches.
Finishing his rookie year, Bryant caught 26 footballs for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. He did this in 10 games and with only three starts. His 21.1 yards per reception ranked first in the NFL.
Chapter 3: Full Season, Full Steam netAhead? (2015-2016)
Unfortunately for the Steelers, and Bryant, the 2nd year wide receiver was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Bryant’s first game was slated to be in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers, but missed this game due to a knee injury.
I know it’s tough to pinpoint, but this was the season when Bryant made that acrobatic front flip catch in the end zone for a touchdown against the rival Cincinnati Bengals.
Bryant would finish the 2015 with 11 games played, starting in five of them. He was targeted 92 times, hauled in 50 receptions for 765 yards and six touchdowns. Bryant also recorded a rushing touchdown.
Chapter 4: Bryant Refuses to Turn New Leaf (2016-2017)
His third season in the NFL was supposed to be Bryant’s full season with the team and expectations were sky high. These expectations were quickly silenced and put to bed when Bryant failed another drug test, which would wind up costing him to be suspended for the entire 2016-2017 season.
Bryant then relocated to Henderson, Nevada and moved in with his agent. He spent hours training, in mandated drug counseling and with a local high school, coaching and mentoring the wide receivers.
If you’d like to be reminded of that full story, here is a link.
Chapter 5: Disgruntled Bryant Emerges (2017- )
In the offseason, while Bryant was still suspended, the Steelers selected wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in the 2nd round. Bryant took his frustrations and offenses out to social media, tweeting: “lol that’s Sammie coates replacement not minds take it how you want to I am back.” This may have been “just fun” but it was just a continuation of where we are now with his immaturity.
Bryant was absent all of training camp, but was conditionally reinstated by the NFL on April 25th.
Recently, Bryant has been out-snapped by Smith-Schuster and less involved in the offense. Bryant’s agent, Tom Santanello, reportedly approached the Steelers about trading Bryant, who was unhappy about the amount of targets he is getting along with the number of snaps he has played.
Through seven games, Bryant has been targeted 36 times (5.1 targets per game), hauled in 18 receptions for 234 yards and just one touchdown.
The report leaked into the national media and Bryant took to twitter and said he is happy to be a Steeler.
Following Week 7’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Bryant responded to an Instagram comment, who claimed Smith-Schuster was superior to Bryant. Bryant responded to the comment with: “ juju is nowhere near better than me fool all they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have juju and who ever else.
What does Bryant want? Out of Pittsburgh? Or to get the ball more?
My opinion on the matter is as such: the Steelers are not going to trade Bryant. His value has diminished due to his suspensions, his recent production and his negative “me first” attitude.
I understand where Bryant is coming from. He missed a full season, was replaced, then not getting involved in the offense as he was expecting. It is a business and I can only imagine the pressures being placed on Bryant by his family, girlfriend and agent to get paid. The thought here is ‘getting the ball equals production, which equals a big payday’. In Pittsburgh, he’s not getting the ball, so he wants to go elsewhere to maybe get an increase in his production. The way Bryant is going about his want out of Pittsburgh, or his want for the football is completely wrong. He said this off-season how mature he was and how he is a “grown man”. Going to the Steelers as a man and saying that he would appreciate a trade would be the best way to go about his unhappiness.
Because Bryant was suspended for the 2016-2017 season, Bryant’s rookie contract was extended for another year. Bryant would be a free agent in this upcoming off-season if he didn’t mess up and get suspended.
Today, October 24th, 2017, Bryant talked to ESPN’s Josina Anderson. In this talk, Bryant said “he’s “got to move on” at the trade deadline if the Pittsburgh Steelers don’t want him to contribute to the offense.” He later added: “I just want to be happy, whether it’s here or it’s somewhere else,” Bryant told ESPN. “I just want to help contribute. I just want to be the best player that I can on and off the field … and I want to be given the chance to be that. But I would like for it to be here. If not, then, oh well. Just got to move on.” It is clear Bryant wants the football, but he has to get open first. Bryant has had a few deep passes that he couldn’t haul in thus far, so getting on the same page with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is critical.
The NFL trade deadline is October 31st, but don’t expect the Steelers to trade Bryant unless they are offered a trade they cannot refuse. This is how Bryant should have handled his uneasiness to begin with, talk it out and be an adult.
All in all, the conclusion I have come up with is that is if the Steelers are going to trade Bryant, it would be in the 2018 off-season. If not, Bryant will have to wait until another year to hit free agency and dash from Pittsburgh. The Steelers would be smart to move on from Bryant. Throwing teammates under the bus and being selfish is not good for the team. Again, he is still in his rookie deal, so he is very cheap, which is why the Steelers have good reason to keep him around. I wouldn’t want a player on my team who didn’t want to be there, but to get something remotely worth-while; the Steelers will need to rejuvenate Bryant’s trade value.
Bryant is unhappy and is where he is solely on the choices he has made. He has nobody to blame but the man in the mirror. His words and actions are disheartening, as the Steelers stood by him and never cut ties. His best bet is to shut up, play his tail off and let everything settle into place.
He owes Pittsburgh, not vise versa…
Chapter 6: To Be Continued…