NFL conditionally reinstates Steelers' Martavis Bryant after year-long suspension
Bryant will have his progress reviewed again before the coming season
The Steelers' already potent offense just added an explosive receiver to pair alongside Antonio Brown. On Tuesday, the NFL conditionally reinstated Martavis Bryant, who missed all of last season after violating the league's substance-abuse policy a year ago.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert released the following statement, per the team's website:
Martavis Bryant has followed the protocol and has been conditionally reinstated by the National Football League. We appreciate that he has taken the necessary steps in an effort to get his personal life in order. We also understand this is just the beginning as he works to return to the team and meet all of the conditions of his reinstatement.
We look forward to working with Martavis to ensure that he is mentally and physically prepared to contribute to our efforts on the field, while also maintaining the proper balance to keep his life in order off the field.
As the team's website explained, the conditional aspect of Bryant's reinstatement means he's officially able to join his teammates at the team's facility. But the NFL will evaluate his progress before the upcoming season starts. If all goes well, he'll be eligible to play in Week 1. Later during the season, he'll be evaluated again. If he passes that evaluation, he'll be reinstated fully.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport provided more information regarding those evaluations:
Conditions for Martavis Bryantâs reinstatement: He canât attend practices or play in preseason games until heâs found a treating clinician.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2017
Bryant must work with the treating clinician to plan activities for his teamâs bye week & offseason. Upon approval, heâs good for the season— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2017
Bryant was suspended for a year last March, when news broke of another failed drug test (he was also suspended four games in 2015 reportedly due to marijuana use). That ended up being a costly blow to the Steelers. Without a capable No. 2 receiver, teams were able to concentrate more coverage on Brown -- not that Brown suffered too badly. The Steelers' top wide receiver ended up catching 106 passes for 1,284 yards and 12 touchdowns. But it's worth noting that Brown caught 136 passes for 1,834 yards in 2015, when Bryant racked up 50 receptions, 765 yards, and six touchdowns in 11 games.
He definitely meets the criteria of "explosive receiver."
Bryant's presence won't just help Brown, it'll also help Ben Roethlisberger, who didn't really have a dependable option behind Bryant and running back Le'Veon Bell, as Sammie Coates struggled with consistency. With Bryant, the Steelers' offense now features three lethal options. They can either give Bell 30 touches or use Brown and Bryant in the deep passing game.
It could be an unstoppable trio, assuming Bryant's off-the-field issues are behind him for good.
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