Ex-Steelers, Raiders WR Martavis Bryant Suspended by Argonauts

Martavis Bryant

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Martavis Bryant catches a pass in front of Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots for a 4-yard touchdown during a game at Heinz Field on December 17, 2017.

On Saturday the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts opened training camp but former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant was not among his teammates. That’s because he was added to Toronto’s suspended list, along with four other American players.

Being on a suspended list is a familiar experience for Bryant, who was repeatedly suspended during his time in the NFL. But this time the cause is not substance abuse-related.

“Martavis is having some passport issues,” said Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, per the CBC. “Hopefully he will get that figured out soon and come join us for camp.”

Bryant signed with the Argonauts on January 25 of this year, perhaps a tacit admission that he won’t be playing in the NFL again. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in December 2018 and has not applied for reinstatement.

In early April Bryant signed with the Massachusetts Pirates of the Indoor Football League (IFL). He made his IFL debut in a 49-18 victory over the Louisville Xtreme; the IFL’s official site indicates that Bryant caught two passes for 31 yards while a member of the Pirates.

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Martavis Bryant’s NFL Career, Frequently Interrupted

Bryant was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft (No. 118 overall out of Clemson). He caught 126 passes for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns during his time in Pittsburgh, yet the Steelers were willing to trade him to the then-Oakland Raiders for a 2018 third-rounder because of his inability to stay on the field.

Bryant was suspended for the entire 2016 season for multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. He also received a four-game ban for violating the league’s rules in 2015.

The pick the Steelers acquired from the Raiders became part of the package the team used to trade up to select quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Ex-Steelers WR Sammie Coates Suspended by the Roughriders

Notably, Martavis Bryant isn’t the only ex-Steelers receiver to find himself on a CFL Suspended list. Last week the Saskatchewan Roughriders suspended former 2015 third-round pick Sammie Coates. It’s not clear why the Roughriders designated Coates as such, though in the CFL, suspended lists are used for more than disciplinary issues.

As noted by AL.com: “At this point in the league calendar, players often end up on the suspended list when they aren’t ready to start training camp. By giving such players this designation, they don’t occupy an active-roster spot that could be used for a player who can practice. This year, that situation has been compounded by the requirement that players undergo quarantine before starting training camp.”

The Roughriders’ training camp roster still features former Steelers seventh-rounder Keion Adams, plus ex-Steelers quarterback Paxton Lynch, who signed with the Roughriders in June. Lynch is battling for a job with four other QBs, most notably Tom Flacco, the younger brother of former Baltimore Ravens starter Joe Flacco. Tom went undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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