Martavis Bryant is a frustrated wide receiver. Receivers upset with their lot are a time-honored tradition in the NFL. He wants to play. He wants the ball more than the Steelers throw it to him. I get it.
Earlier this month he wanted a trade. Then he didn’t, denying the report. He told everyone he was really happy in Pittsburgh. We all winked knowingly and said “uh huh, sure.” And that was that.
A week later he was back at it. When someone on Instagram said teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster was better, Bryant unloaded.
“JuJu is no where near better than me, fool. All they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have JuJu and whoever else,” he responded.
That comment didn’t stay up long before it was replaced with something more diplomatic and complementary of his teammate.
Bryant didn’t hold back in a conversation with ESPN’s Josina Anderson this week.
#Steelers WR Martavis Bryant to me: "If they don’t try to include me more and continue to do the same thing, then I want out period." [Cont]— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 24, 2017
Bryant to me on deadline for progress: "By the end of whenever t/ trade deadline is. I mean if things don’t get better, then I got to go."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 24, 2017
Martavis Bryant to me/if team refuses to trade: "Then so be it, I’m not going to re-sign..I’ll just play next year out. I’m not tripping."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) October 24, 2017
His complaints are getting him benched this week. He said Wednesday that coach Mike Tomlin will make him inactive this week against the Lions. Bryant spent his practice time so far this week working with the scout team, and reportedly doing quite well — perhaps a motivational tactic. And by the end of the day, even Ben Roethlisberger was telling the media that he needed to get the ball to Bryant more.
So everything’s fine now, right? Sure, until the next incident. Bryant clearly wants to play. And there’s just not many targets to go around in the Steelers’ offense with guys like Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and apparently JuJu. (Smith-Schuster has exactly one less target, 12 vs. 13, than Bryant over the last three games).
Give him what he wants
The trade deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 31, and the Steelers should be actively listening to any and all calls they get from teams interested in trading for Bryant.
They probably won’t get much in return for Bryant, which could also explain part of their hesitation to deal him. He’s one more substance abuse violation away from the Josh Gordon career track. That’s a big risk for an interested team.
I can understand why Steelers fans would be hesitant to for the team to trade him, even if they’re tired of his antics. Good wide receiver depth is hard to find. An injury to one of the other players on the depth chart in Pittsburgh would give him the playing time he wants.
Bryant’s an impressive young receiver. In Stephen White’s breakout player profile of Bryant prior to the season, he took a deeper look at a guy who’s got a Randy Moss-like skill set. He’s fast and catches the football better than most. A player like would be a lot of fun to watch in an offense that put him in a featured roll.
Where could they trade him?
If the Steelers did make him available, plenty of teams would be interested. With the standing so tightly packed, most teams in the league can make the case that they have a shot at the playoffs, whether they really do or not.
Dallas is one option. The Cowboys aren’t getting much production at all from the receivers behind Dez Bryant on the depth chart. Martavis Bryant would fit well in that offense as a second receiver on the field with Dez Bryant. The all-Bryant duo.
Granted it’s not a traditional option at the deadline, but there’s always one of the rebuilding teams. If a team like, say, the Browns or Jets, felt like they could help him stay away from an indefinite suspension, he’s a young player on a rookie contract that shouldn’t cost much to acquire. Oh, and he’d be a pretty good receiver for whoever is playing quarterback for those teams.
One thing we know for sure, if the Steelers don’t trade him, he’s going to keep showing up in the comments of random Instagram posts or grabbing any reporter who’ll listen — and they’ll all be eager to listen — to talk about how unhappy he is and how much he wants out.
Selfishly, I’d like to see him play more myself. If the Steelers aren’t going to play him more than they are, then deal him.