Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers cut running back LeGarrette Blount following his early departure from the field during a game in Tennessee. They cited a negative attitude and off he went to New England.
In case you missed it, Blount went on to help the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory too. This is exactly the concern I have if the Steelers’ front office makes the decision to cut loose Martavis Bryant following his most recent failed drug test.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Bryant would be snapped up quickly by any of the other teams in the league should he hit the open market. Despite this, I believe the Steelers would be doing themselves a favor by releasing Bryant.
The Steelers gambled when they drafted Bryant out of Clemson in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Bryant had played second fiddle to Sammy Watkins but had a strong 2014 season and then had a big game against Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
Bryant had issues at Clemson though off the field and the Steelers were well aware of those transgressions but went ahead and chose him anyway. You know the rest of the story from last year and then how he came into this season with 20 lbs of added muscle. He has been widely selected as a “breakout” player this season from many media outlets as well.
Unfortunately, I believe the Steelers should part ways now for a couple of reasons.
First, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported, this offense is for marijuana use. This puts him in stage two of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Program. Should he test negative again, he would be facing a ten-game suspension.
Secondly, this is reportedly the fourth time Bryant has failed a drug test. What evidence do any of us have that Bryant isn’t on the same exact path as former Browns’ receiver Josh Gordon? The Steelers cannot afford to have a guy in street clothes more than half the season only to see his career basically over with another suspension.
I’ve heard the Steelers are very much on the fence in terms of what to do with Bryant right now. A four-game suspension is bad but the Steelers can still thrive without him. Can they risk him getting popped again though? I don’t think they can and right now I see no way he gets a second contract either.
It’s a tough decision the Steelers are facing and if this were a one-time incident as it was with Le’Veon Bell then I wouldn’t even be wasting my time writing this. But this has been a pattern with Bryant and I fear it will continue.
If any organization needs some positive PR right now it’s the Steelers. After the Michael Vick signing and the fallout from the Bryant news, perhaps a hard decision like cutting Bryant is what is needed.