Ex-Steelers Standout WR Gets Second Chance in CFL

Martavis Bryant

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Martavis Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a touchdown pass in front of Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots on December 17, 2017.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is getting a second opportunity to play professional football north of the border. On February 28, 2022, the CFL’s Edmonton Elks announced that they signed Bryant, along with three other less-heralded players. The 30-year-old South Carolina native had a similar opportunity last year, having inked a contract with the Toronto Argonauts in January 2021. Yet he never reported to the team and spent the entire season on Toronto’s suspended list.

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Martavis Bryant Produced 3 80+ Yard TD Catches in Pittsburgh

It’s no surprise that multiple CFL teams would be willing to take a chance on a talent like Bryant, who was a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2014 (No. 118 overall) after playing his college ball at Clemson. Over the course of three seasons, Bryant played in a total of 36 games with the Steelers, making 16 starts. During those contests he caught 126 passes for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns (15.2 yards per reception). That includes three touchdown catches of 80+ yards and several other spectacular TD receptions, as seen in the highlight reel video immediately below:

Yet Bryant could not stay on the field during his time in Pittsburgh, as he was suspended by the NFL three times in four seasons for substance abuse violations, with one suspension spanning the entire 2016 campaign.

The Steelers Traded Bryant to the Raiders For a Third-Round Pick

But before the NFL suspended Martavis Bryant indefinitely on December 14, 2018, the Steelers offloaded him to the Raiders for a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers went on to trade that selection (No. 79 overall) to the Seattle Seahawks as part of a deal that allowed Pittsburgh to move up to No. 76 overall to draft Mason Rudolph, who will be competing for the team’s starting quarterback job this season.

Some outlets have reported that Bryant has not played competitive football since being suspended by the NFL, but that’s not true. In April 2021 the Massachusetts Pirates of the Indoor Football League (IFL) signed Bryant. Later that month, he made his IFL debut in a 49-18 road victory over the Louisville Xtreme.

The CFL is Home to Several Former Steelers Players

If Martavis Bryant takes the field for the Elks in 2022, he may ultimately get the chance to go against former Steelers quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges, who signed a three-year contract with the Ottawa Redblacks in September 2021 and made his first CFL start six weeks later.

And Hodges is not the only former Steelers player who has been making a living in the CFL. For example, ex-Steelers safety Shamarko Thomas signed with the Redblacks last year and former Steelers wideout Eli Rogers spent time with the Argonauts in 2021.

Last month Rogers was selected by the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 13th round of the USFL draft, reuniting him with former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who was named head coach of the Bandits in January 2022.

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