I will fully admit when it comes to Martavis Bryant, my judgment may be a little clouded. This is one of my favorite players to watch of all time for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have a soft spot for him both as a person, and a player. Martavis Bryant as a person is indeed very troubled. He doesn’t seem to be a bad kid, just one who suffers greatly from addiction. As a player, he is probably the most electrifying offensive weapon ever to put on a Steelers uniform. Now let me be clear, Bryant will never be as consistent or productive as Antonio Brown. That’s not his game. What he is capable of being when he is right, is a dynamic deep threat the likes of which this offense does not currently have. Nobody on the Steelers roster comes close to what Bryant can bring to an offense.
Take a look back to Antonio Brown’s best statistical years and ask yourself what was different about the team in those years. Brown had 1,834 yards and 10 TDs in 2015, and 1,698 and 13 TDs in 2014. Those just happen to be the two years Martavis Bryant played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coincidence? Certainly not. The simple fact was opposing defenses were terrified of Martavis Bryant getting deep on them. That led to teams believing they could not afford to double team Antonio Brown. Bryant opened up defenses in a way not even Ju Ju Smith Schuster could. In fact, he could do a lot of the same things for Smith-Schuster now that Antonio Brown is not the focus of other team’s game plans anymore.
There are two major hurdles to Martavis Bryant ever becoming a viable player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. First off, the troubled receiver must get back into the NFL. While he has applied for reinstatement, there is no guarantee the league will allow it. He has already been suspended three times, and is still considered to be not following the proper guidelines the NFL has set for him. It’s a long shot, but players with equally bad offense have been reinstated like Josh Gordon for instance. The next question is will Bryant ever be the player he was before all the suspensions happened? Does he still have that deep play ability he once had? Even if both those things were possible, the question becomes would the Steelers be willing to go down this road again. After the Mike Tomlin termed “cleansing” the team has gone through, its tough to see them bringing back a past headache.
My thought on this is what would the Steelers have to lose by bringing Bryant back. Clearly he would have to sign a league minimum contract. One wrong move and he could be easily cuttable. There really is no downside to at least kicking the tires on this player. Even if he is only 75% of what he used to be, isn’t that is better than any other receiver on this roster right now? This is a low risk, high reward type of signing. One Kevin Colbert would be mistaken not to take.