According to a tweet from Rudy Carpenter of Sirius XM NFL Radio, former Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant has “officially applied for reinstatement,” adding, “NFL is going to have some interesting decisions to make.”
Bryant has been out of the league since December 14, 2018, when he was suspended indefinitely by the NFL. On that day the league said: “Effective immediately, Martavis Bryant has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list for violating the terms of his April 2017 conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.”
Bryant was conditionally reinstated by the NFL in April 2017 after missing the entire 2016 season for multiple violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Bryant had off-the-field issues since the earliest part of his NFL career, but his “home run” ability was also evident early on, and for a brief time it looked like he might challenge Antonio Brown for the role as the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver.
In fact, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recalls a Steelers’ teammate saying: “Bryant might be the best receiver in the NFL,” this missive coming shortly after a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills in August 2015—a game in which Bryant caught three passes for 137 yards.
Martavis Bryant Scored 3 80+ Yard TDs in 11 Games
But because Martavis Bryant’s career numbers are decidedly modest, many forget the impact he had before substance abuse issues began taking a toll on his career.
After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft—#118 overall—Bryant played in a total of 36 games with the Steelers, including just 16 starts. During those games he caught 126 passes for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns, for an average of 15.2 yards per reception.
But his penchant for making “splash” plays was obvious from the get-go. As noted by the aforementioned Dulac, “Bryant is the only player in NFL history to have three touchdown catches of 80 yards of longer in his first 11 career games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.”
This as compared to Jerry Rice, who had four catches of 80-plus yards in his career, tied with Jordy Nelson for the most touchdowns of 80-plus yards since the 1970 merger.
Martavis Bryant Traded to the Raiders in 2018
Ultimately the Steelers decided to part ways with Bryant in 2018, when the Oakland Raiders stepped up and offered a third-round pick. The Steelers had resisted trading him for anything less than a third-rounder, well-aware of his upside potential, not to mention the fact that he was still on his relatively inexpensive rookie contract, thanks to his repeated suspensions.
But Bryant struggled to make a difference in the employ of Jon Gruden. In eight games with the Raiders he made only two starts, catching just 19 passes for 266 yards and zero touchdowns before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Still, if and when Bryant is reinstated by the NFL, he’s worth a look-see from any and all teams in need of a deep threat at wide receiver.
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