MARCH 14, 1:11pm: As confirmed by the Steelers, Bryant will indeed face a suspension of at least a year, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). Sources tell Wilson that Bryant is no longer appealing his ban because it was “unwinnable.” The Steelers wideout will be eligible for reinstatement next winter, and could return for the 2017 season.
MARCH 12, 3:29pm: Bryant will check into rehab for depression issues, agent Brian Fettner tells Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Bryant’s ban stems from multiple missed drug tests, Fettner told Pelissero, and that a successful appeal of the penalty looms a “long shot.” Multiple missed tests appear to have vaulted Bryant past the 10-game suspension stage in the substance-abuse protocol, according to Pelissero.
1:08pm: Martavis Bryant could be set for another suspension, with this one set to shelve him for the entire 2016 season. The third-year Steelers wideout faces a year-long ban for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, Dejan Kovacevic and Jason Mackey of DKPittsburghsports.com report.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com confirms Bryant is facing another and far more significant suspension (Twitter link).
Bryant has appealed the suspension, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.
Should this penalty hold, Bryant would land in the same area Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon have in recent years, with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement after one calendar year, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.
The 24-year-old rising talent missed Pittsburgh’s first four games last season due to multiple violations of the substance-abuse policy, with marijuana usage being at the root of the penalty. Upon return, he quickly re-emerged as the Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver and formed arguably the NFL’s No. 1 wide-receiving corps along with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton.
Bryant caught 50 passes for 765 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 and added 183 yards and a score in Pittsburgh’s two playoff games.
The mercurial wideout underwent three weeks of counseling in Houston last September before returning from his ban.
A 6-foot-4 target out of Clemson, Bryant began his career midway through the 2014 season due to a separated shoulder but immediately developed a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger, becoming Pittsburgh’s latest receiving find. He has 16 career touchdowns in 24 games, counting three playoff contests.
The Steelers could be forced to turn to second-year wideout Sammie Coates in the event Bryant’s longest slated absence to date goes into effect.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images