Several outlets are reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant faces a four game suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policies. Bryant, whom the Steelers drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft went from not dressing for the first 8 games of the season to finishing the season with 8 touchdowns.
- The Steelers had counted on an explosive year of growth from Bryant to had yet more fire power to one of the NFL’s primer offenses.
The Martavis Bryant suspension adds more bad news to a Pittsburgh Steelers squad that was already reeling from a long-term injury to Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. As things stand, the Steelers figure to be without Pouncey, Le’Veon Bell and now Bryant for their opener vs. the New England Patriots.
- The news however as implications that are far more disturbing than simply losing Bryant for a quarter season.
It takes effort for an NFL player to get suspended for substance abuse. As Jim Wexell explained on his Steel City Insider site:
To draw a four-game suspension, a player must have failed three drug tests, which are administered every spring. If a player has failed only twice, and the league has determined the player hasn’t followed league protocol and fulfilled its requirements, a player can be suspended four games.
Translation: This wasn’t Martavis Bryant’s first rodeo. He knew he’d been caught using something illegal, he knew the NFL was monitoring him for continued usage, yet he continued to use.
Foster Confirms NFLPA Will Fight for Braynt
Steelers starting guard Ramon Foster, who is the team’s NFLPA representative, confirmed that NFLPA will fight the Martavis Bryant suspension as Bryant has vowed to appeal. As he does so, he’ll have the full support of the NFLPA. For whatever that’s worth….
What Steelers Roster Bubble Player Benefits from Bryant’s Suspension?
While the Martavis Bryant suspension deals a huge blow to the Steelers, his suspension creates opportunity for someone else down the ladder. Obviously the move does not impact Antonio Brown’s position on the team. Markus Wheaton will undoubtedly continue in his starting role, a job which Bryant was challenge him for. Darrius Heyward-Bey will likely move into the 3rd wide receiver role. The 4th spot could go to Sammie Coates.
Early on in camp C.J. Goodwin has a buzz about him as an official “sleeper” however Mike Tomlin has been signing the prasises of Tyler Murphy recently and Shakim Phillips has also turned heads.
Both Murphy and Philips caught touchdown passes in the Steelers preseason win over the Packers, and assuming the Steelers keep 5 wide receivers on their opening day roster, either one of them has the chance to find himself as the target of a Ben Roethlisberger pass during September.