Martavis Bryant plans to enter rehab and we certainly hope the exciting Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver gets the help he needs. Bryant could be facing a season-long suspension for reportedly missing a number of drug tests, and if he is out for the 2016 season it is a serious blow to Pittsburgh’s chances in the AFC North.
At 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds with 4.4 speed, Bryant has an insane level of natural talent. Unfortunately, he has wasted that talent on drugs. The 24-year-old has already served one four-game suspension for multiple failed drug tests, and his agent now says that in the time since, Bryant hasn’t shown up for “multiple” subsequent tests. That has put him in the NFL’s cross-hairs and could land him out of football for a year.
The Steelers knew the risk they were taking with Bryant when they selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. The Clemson product had all-world talent but was slapped with the dreaded “character concerns” label and saw his stock plummet.
Despite those issues, Bryant thrived in Pittsburgh. In 21 regular season games over the past two years he has caught 76 passes for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding another rushing score. He missed four games due to a suspension in 2015 and blossomed anyway, hauling in 50 receptions for 765 yards and six touchdowns. He had become a valuable big-play threat alongside No. 1 receiver Antonio Brown. Now the Steelers have to replace him.
While Bryant entering rehab will hopefully be good for him, it is terrible news for the Steelers because it confirms that he has a real problem, not just an issue with maturity. It won’t be easy to replace his natural playmaking ability.
Pittsburgh signed tight end Ladarius Green in free agency and must hope he is worth the investment. Meanwhile, guys like Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jesse James will all have a chance to step up and fill the void left by Bryant’s absence.
The Steelers’ championship window will begin to close soon as Ben Roethlisberger heads into the twilight of his career. With the Cincinnati Bengals currently the top dog in the AFC North and the Baltimore Ravens sure to bounce back, the loss of Bryant is a huge blow for Pittsburgh.
Here’s hoping he gets his life together and returns better than ever.