2017 South Side Questions: Will Bryant Finish This Season Or Start The Next In Pittsburgh?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Will Martavis Bryant finish the 2017 season in a Steelers uniform? Will he start the 2018 season in one?

The Martavis Bryant drama is now two weeks running since reports indicated that he had in weeks prior requested a trade. While he subsequently denied the report, he seemed to let the cat out of the bag on social media after yesterday’s game, in which he got just two touches for a combined five yards.

In response to somebody saying that JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ rookie wide receiver who currently is tied for the team lead with three touchdown receptions, was better, he in so many words said that if the team gave him what he wanted—inferring here a trade to a team with more opportunities—they would see who is better.

There exists in this scenario the potential for a toxic climate that could snowball if left to fester. If Bryant is going to continue to be used in a reduced role with few targets and touches per game, and he really is unhappy with his role on the team and would rather seek opportunity elsewhere, I don’t see why it would be impossible for it to create issues in the locker room.

As I wrote last week, he has said publicly all the right things, but he still has exposed these moments of mental fragility, baited by a comment on social media to go on rants he would subsequently have to delete, and one has to wonder where it all ends.

Would it become so bad that they would have to try to move him mid-season, even if that meant releasing him? That would seem unlikely from where we currently stand. And they have already said they’re not looking to move him, though that could change. But what about next year? Smith-Schuster isn’t going anywhere, nor is Antonio Brown. Where does that leave Bryant?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • CP72

    I don’t care that Martavis says wants the ball. I actually like that in a receiver. If you are going to complain about opportunities when the ball comes your way you better make a play on it.

    Two of the recent deep balls to him he didn’t step up. One he stopped running (Chicago) and the other he lost in the lights (Cincinnati). If he catches those two balls I don’t think we are having this conversation.

    If you’re unproductive and causing a distraction what incentive does the organization have to keep you around?

  • Doug Andrews

    Just being objective if the Steelers wait until next year I doubt they’ll get any real offers since Bryant will be in the final year of his contract. The thing is he’s needed this year for the potential SB run. Honestly hoping the Steelers and Bryant can work thing out because I do believe Bryant has a legitimate gripe. The Steelers seemingly game plan to get BB Bell and AB going so why not work in MB as well? From the Steelers standpoint they’ve stuck with Bryant during his off the field issues but they really need to get him involved in the offense. Watching the Bengals game I wondered where’s the Redzone threat when you have JuJu AB and McDonald all lined up with Bryant standing on the sidelines.

  • Iulo

    I don’t get it… it looks like every week someone is trying to make some scandal/controversy around the Team…. first AB then Bell, later Rodgers, and now Bryant…
    No way he is leaving PIT; the owner was also clear on that. If he plays like he is doing now its great. He is blocking, he is catching (when he gets some balls) and attracts/absorbs coverage so that AB is not double covered…

    here we have an example of two good receivers (Rodgers and Bryant) which are underutilized…
    either is Ben or Haley doesn’t matter, but right now the ofense is far from expected

  • Steven

    Giving only the limited information available it seems less and less likely that Martavis will finish his career with the Steelers. I don’t see a trade happening this season as one injury and his playing time can skyrocket. Also the value of that trade is very likely limited. Next season who knows but for now message should be Chest Up Eyes Up & Off Social Media.

  • francesco

    I rember saying if we had MBryant on last year’s team we would have beaten NE even if LBell got hurt because i also believed in DWilliams. Now i wish MBryant gets traded because he deserves a better OC and QB. I hate to see such raw talent be suppressed by stagnant play calling. MBryant is a stallion that has been fenced in by this organization. Let him run free. The NFL needs to see his beautiful strides run free with another team . Steelers don’t deserve this kind of talent. They are wasting him away. Haley is stuck in the mud. Ben is an old dog that can’t learn new things.

  • pittfan

    I would have liked to see him in the AFCC too, as would him team mates. and In this years OTAs and training camp..where was he? Oh yeah, suspended. Who exactly is squandering talent?

  • Darth Blount 47

    Assuming the typed words WERE actually Martavis, I took them to mean something different than him declaring that he’d like to be moved. I read it as: “Give me the ball and then just see what I can do.” The end of the rant made by whomever, did state: “…In due time, the process will show.” So I think it is a bit of supposition to say that he requested or even inferred a trade last night.

    As to your question, I think Art Rooney II said it best. Kinda funny how everyone wants to take what Art says as the gospel, except apparently in this particular instance.

  • francesco

    He was under the mercy of Goodell and his sniff dogs.

  • Brian Miller

    This situation continues to shed more light on why the Steelers took JJSS in the 2nd round in the first place. Or at least help explain what helped lead up to it.

  • Ichabod

    When he gets his chances, few that they may be, he hardly looks like a stallion

  • John Pennington

    Ben is not throwing him the ball.Or the steelers are phasing him out but you cant help the team if the ball not coming your way.Haley and Tomlin should come clean and tell everyone the truth once and for all..Whats the big secret anyway.

  • prnitz

    If someone offers a number two draft pick he should be gone. Otherwise keep using him as a decoy and give him 1 or 2 targets a game to keep defences honest. Or better sit him and let Justin Hunter see is hes the adequate replacement.

  • prnitz

    says MB gf . . .

  • LucasY59

    since his 1st suspension I knew it was doubful he would get a 2nd contract from the Steelers (knew they werent able to pay him and AB) the 2nd suspension I wasnt sure if he’d ever play again (but that was more because of badell) I was pretty excited for his return (since I thought he could take the O to the next level) but so far I am not impressed and if they can get something out of him in a trade after this season it might be a good idea (I dont think he is going anywhere this season though, and will have enough big plays to be decent tradebait, but wont have the big role he thinks he should have)

  • LucasY59

    and added Hunter as a FA

  • LucasY59

    he will be another Wallace when he leaves (not a Sanders)

  • LucasY59

    same as everyone else that played in that game

  • Brian Miller

    Yup

  • pittsburghjoe

    All we need now is the field goal kicker screaming for more opportunities. Would fit this year perfect.

  • Steeler Nation!

    Whatever. He is too much of a one trick pony. If he could run good slants and comebacks and catch the ball, and stay off the weed, he would make many millions. He’s not getting open regularly and not catching the ball when he gets his deep ball opportunities. He has 2 drug suspensions, plays with one of the best QBs in the game on a consistent winner, and now is bitching about getting his. WHO wants to trade for that? We can’t get crap for you. Shut up and go to work!

  • Joseph DeFazio

    I started to write bench him then suspend him if it keeps up…you know what, if you can get a 4 for him, trade him tomorrow. If not, someone needs to tell him how much money that being inactive for a bunch of games will eventually cost him when he can leave on his own. He may think he is hurting the team and therefore they will trade him, but he is really hurting his future earnings potential even more than he already has.

  • Joseph DeFazio

    (we also don’t see practice, so hard to know what happens there) but it looks like Ben does not trust him and when that happens, you don’t get the targets

  • Froggy

    Coming off a one-year suspension with poor production and an attitude problem, you’d be lucky if you could get fifth-round pick for him.

  • Big Joe

    Don’t know about this year, but it does seem to be getting out of hand, whether of his doing or his girlfriend’s or his agent’s or whomever. I think the FO will remove him for a couple of weeks to see what he does then go from there. They won’t get much trade value from him and it sets an awful precedence if they yield to unhappy players who use social media to try to make their case for playing time, contracts or other.

  • Big Joe

    Was going down the same road regarding lost money for his family that you did. Gonna depend on if they suspend him and if they do it without pay.

  • Big Joe

    Yes he can. He can threaten deep to occupy a CB and safety so the latter can’t be used underneath, block in his area, keep trying to get more open on his shorter patterns, and keep working in his route details. Right now, the team is playing to take what the D gives them to get into a rhythm, open run game, limit the opportunities of good pass rush teams like the last 4 to get after BB, and stay on field.

  • Big Joe

    You could be correct on your interpretation. Unfortunately, this is what social media does when words are left to interpretation by whoever posted them. If it is someone else and someone close to him, then it’s not helping him.

  • Big Joe

    No words for this. Players play within the system at hand. This team is not a deep passing team by identity anymore and MB isn’t showing the ability to get as open on short patterns as you’re promoting here. So, if all you’re concerned with is his ability to get deep and catches TDs then I think you’ve stated the case why he isn’t being targeted as much as AB. Wallace said the same thing and his career never took off either because that type of player is dependent on offensive scheme and QB. Too bad, be a more complete and detailed WR then.

  • Dennis Nevinsky

    I would trade Bryant to Tennessee or Buffalo, and our 1st round pick, in exchange for their 1st round pick. That would move Pittsburgh up in 2018 to take out QB of the future.

  • 2020_Vision

    I’m disappointed that Martavis let’s his passion (arguing with idiot fans) for the game get the best of him. I really believe he is the missing weapon that would give the Steelers their 7th Lombardi. But alas, the offensive schemes do not use his talents wisely. The end-arounds are a waste. The deep balls are few and rarely accurate this year. I hear the fans say the Steelers stood by him during his suspension given him a second chance…what else would they do? They recognize his talent and what it could mean for the team. He doesn’t owe the team anything. If he is unhappy and wants to go somewhere with better opportunities, its his right to voice his displeasure. Football players have short windows and rightfully he wants to display his talents. I was a Steelers fan before he arrived and I’ll be a Steelers fan when he leaves. I like him as a player and wish him well if and when he goes. Don’t understand why fans feel a need to disparage the young man because he is unhappy in our offense. Just hope the Steelers can effectively use him or move him and wish him well.

  • francesco

    Throw him under the bus if you will… like so many others on this site when not too long ago there was excitement because he was to be the missing piece for Superbowl 7. Instead of blaming Ben and his sorry excuse for “having to play better” you all prefer the demonize a young man for making a mistake in his young life. I wish you would all see your own failures in your own life.
    I say trade MB because he never got any love here. You think the Steelers are a better team without him then prove it…let him go.

  • francesco

    I think you need a gf.

  • prnitz

    I think you’re both under estimating the talent he’s shown and the dearth of wide receivers at that level in this league. He just seems expendable to us because we have other fine wide receivers. Some teams don’t even have one at his level when his head’s on straight

  • prnitz

    People feel the need to disparage the young man because he shoots off his mouth on public forums. If you had an employee that work for your company who did the same I’d be willing to bet you to fire him this week. If he thinks he deserves more playing time and can make a case for that based on his recent performances that should be done with his coaches and coordinator

  • Jason McDonald

    I wish we would suspend him for a week for “ conduct detrimental to the team” .

  • Froggy

    The guy is one toke away from a lifetime ban, right? (Or have they changed the policy?) Talent he’s got, or he certainly had it, but few and far between are the players who make successful comebacks after a year away from professional sports. Given the questions about his performance and (especially) his history of drug suspensions, I doubt any GM would spend a valuable draft pick to take a chance on him.

  • Jim McCarley

    if I see another third down and a foot deep pass to appease a WR, I’m going to puke…

  • Big Joe

    First, I was focusing on his play within the scheme. Where you took away that I was focusing on him as a person, I have no idea. So, how about we keep this set of comments off the moral high-ground and stick to the facts. I said nothing about his personal life mistakes and would prefer you keep your comments to yourself about what I should do with mine. He has work to do in his routes and moves as a WR to create space. That’s as neutral as one can get. You don’t want to see his play in that light and only want to see people as going after him because he made mistakes in the past, then so be it. I’m here to look at the picture thru a football lense.

  • francesco

    No problem sticking with football. Ben is not the right QB for him. I can see MB thriving in KC offense.

  • nutty32

    Santonio Holmes all over again. MB getting bad advice/making bad life choices. None of his antics leads to him making more money or being a bigger star. If a turd personality can’t excel in Pittsburgh, they usually don’t amount to much in other environments, either. What team would want to take a chance unless they can get him for free? Gonna say he finishes out his contract with the Steelers or completely out of the league by 2019.

  • 2020_Vision

    Does what Martavis Eat Make You $hlt?

  • Tom

    NFL network reporting that Martavis “called in sick” today

  • Matthew Marczi

    Some fact-checking is in order here. For example, he had two 40-yard end-arounds in the 2015 playoffs. Bryant’s average depth of target this year is 16.6 air yards down the field. He has been targeted 11 times on passes 20 yards or more in the air, and 15 total times on balls thrown 15 yards or more in the air. That’s more than twice per game. Those numbers actually don’t reflect yesterday’s game, I now realize as I type this, so add another 20+ yard deep pass, and his ADOT will go up even further as well.

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    Not before the trade deadline and NEVER to New Cheatland. Too many people, including Bryant, WANT that!

  • 2020_Vision

    Quality Targets!!! There have not been an abundance of quality targets this year.

  • GravityWon

    It’s ok to call for the ball more. It’s not ok to belittle a teammate. Especially a ball player like JuJu who gives everything. Unfortunately Steelers might need to part ways sooner rather than later.

    Is Bryant running good routes and getting open consistently on the all 22 footage? Did he pull up on that one long pass?

  • Bam327

    This is the biggest crock of crap I have ever heard. If I fail a drug test once I get fired from my job. He has failed twice and the team has stuck behind him. He had let everyone in the black and gold down, TWICE. Now he’s being selfish, yet again and dramatizing this bs and causing a distraction.
    NFL isn’t real life pal, most of us don’t get second chances, I know what failures I have made because I have paid for them.
    Go ride your stallion into the sunset. I’m done with him and he deserves that

  • Matthew Marczi

    And how do you define a quality target? He was targeted on average 7 times over the course of the first five weeks. If Roethlisberger isn’t getting him the ball in good positions than his problem should be with the quarterback and not anything else. But of course he has dropped a few balls, failed to hang on to or run under or track others. Some things are actually his fault.

  • MC

    He’s belittled Coates and now Juju who seems to be the complete opposite to him personality wise, after being suspended in the two consecutive years prior to this one and lying to his teammates to boot….Yeah there is definitely a problem with this guy. Use him for this season then draft another one next year.