Martavis Bryant

NFL Reinstates Steelers WR Martavis Bryant

Huge news for the Steelers. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been fully reinstated by the NFL. Martavis Bryant (vertical)

Bryant is now cleared to participate in regular season games and practices. This is the outcome that the Steelers have been expecting.

The league took an intermediate step towards welcoming Bryant back when they gave him clearance to participate in the preseason. Bryant was banned for all of the 2016 season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy. The Steelers are undoubtedly thrilled to have Bryant back as he’ll help to take pressure off of star receiver Antonio Brown.

Bryant, 25, has only appeared in 21 out of 48 possible regular season games over the course of his career, but he has been productive in his limited action. He has averaged 17.3 yards per catch over the last three years.

The news will also have roster implications for the Steelers as they approach the 53-man deadline on Saturday. Right now, Brown, Bryant, Eli Rogers, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Cobi Hamilton figure to be the team’s top five receivers. Sammie Coates Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Justin Hunter are among the other receivers vying for a spot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bills, Steelers, Bengals

The Bills sent big-money defensive tackle Marcell Dareus home before their preseason game against the Ravens last week after he violated a team rule, leaving general manager Brandon Beane unsure if the two-time Pro Bowler is part of the solution. Asked this week if Dareus is on board with what the team is trying to build, Beane told Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (via Mark Inabinett of AL.com): “I don’t know. Time will tell. It was disappointing, as I said, after that game. He was contrite yesterday and said the right things. Actions speak louder than words. Time will tell. Hopefully, he is. We hope he’ll play to his potential. We know what kind of player he can be. We hope to see that on the field.” Even if the Bills are fed up with Dareus, who has multiple suspensions on his resume, moving on from the cornerstone defender in the near future would be extremely difficult because of the structure of his contract. The Bills inked Dareus to a six-year, $91.5MM extension in September 2015.

More from two other AFC cities:

  • The Steelers expect the NFL to fully reinstate wide receiver Martavis Bryant in advance of Week 1, GM Kevin Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette (Twitter link). The league suspended Bryant for all of last season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy, conditionally reinstated the 25-year-old in April and gave him clearance to participate in the preseason three weeks ago. He hasn’t appeared in a meaningful game since a playoff loss to the Broncos on Jan. 17, 2016.
  • Cornerback Joe Haden‘s $5.75MM signing bonus is the only guaranteed portion of the three-year, $27MM contract the Steelers gave him Wednesday, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The pact includes base salaries of $1.25MM, $9MM and $10MM, and it comes with a $1MM roster bonus that’s due in March 2018.
  • Linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s suspensions call his future with the Bengals into question, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com observes. Burfict is set to serve a three-game ban for the second straight campaign, and he has only played 58 of a possible 80 regular-season contests in his five-year career. Cincinnati’s going to have to consider Burfict’s lack of availability when deciding whether to re-sign him by next winter, then. The same goes for tight end Tyler Eifert, whom injuries have limited to 37 of a possible 64 games during his four seasons. Both players make the Bengals better when they’re on the field, which Terrell notes will make for tough decisions in each case.

Martavis Bryant Gets Preseason Clearance

Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has taken a step toward full reinstatement. The NFL cleared him Wednesday to participate in preseason action, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert announced (Twitter link via James Palmer of NFL Network).

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“Martavis Bryant has been informed by the NFL that he is now permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games,” said Colbert. “He will continue to be evaluated as to his readiness to participate in regular-season activities under the terms of his conditional reinstatement.”

The league suspended Bryant for all of last season for repeated violations of its substance abuse policy, finally granting him conditional reinstatement in April. The league decreed that Bryant would need to arrange “clinical resources” in Pittsburgh before suiting up for preseason practices or games, which he has done, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

If Bryant gets through the next few weeks without any off-field setbacks, the league figures to grant him full reinstatement in time for the regular season. The return of Bryant would give the Steelers’ Antonio Brown-led receiving corps yet another high-end weapon. While Bryant, 25, has only appeared in 21 of a possible 48 regular-season games, the 6-foot-4, 211-pounder has already amassed 76 receptions, 1,314 yards (17.3 yards per catch) and 14 touchdowns during his career.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Expect Martavis Bryant Clearance

The Steelers expect wide receiver Martavis Bryant to be fully cleared for return at some point this week, a source tells Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).Martavis Bryant (vertical)

Bryant, who was suspended for the entirety of the 2017 campaign following repeated violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, was conditionally reinstated in by the league in April. The NFL decreed that Bryant would need to arrange “clinical resources” in Pittsburgh before suiting up for preseason practices or games, so it’s likely those machinations are holding up Bryant’s return to the field.

“Upon his conditional reinstatement in April, Martavis Bryant was made aware it was only the beginning of a process toward a return to being a full contributing member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” general manager Kevin Colbert said last month. “We have been informed by the NFL that Martavis is still in the process of being fully reinstated. Until that time, Martavis will be permitted to take part in off-the-field team activities at training camp, but he will not be permitted to practice or play in any games.”

Bryant, of course, is one of the more dynamic pass-catchers in the NFL when on the field. In 21 career games (eight starts), Bryant has totaled 76 receptions for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Steelers, Browns

When the NFL handed Bengals cornerback Adam Jones a one-game suspension last week, it appeared he would fight the ban. That won’t be the case, though, Jones announced Thursday. “You know, I take all accountability for what I did and my actions and my words. I accept it — the one game suspension — and I’m ready to move on, man,” Jones told reporters, including Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 33-year-old’s suspension came after he was charged with three misdemeanors and a felony, though he was able to avoid jail time after pleading guilty to a lesser offense.

More from Cincinnati’s division…

  • Although the league conditionally reinstated Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant from a year-plus suspension in April, it still hasn’t cleared him to participate in training camp. General manager Kevin Colbert addressed the situation Thursday, stating: “Upon his conditional reinstatement in April, Martavis Bryant was made aware it was only the beginning of a process toward a return to being a full contributing member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We have been informed by the NFL that Martavis is still in the process of being fully reinstated. Until that time, Martavis will be permitted to take part in off-the-field team activities at training camp, but he will not be permitted to practice or play in any games.”
  • As expected, Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did not show up at training camp Thursday, as Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com was among those to report. The franchise-tagged star has not signed his $12.12MM tender, meaning he’s under no obligation to attend camp. Bell could follow in the footsteps of Chiefs safety Eric Berry and not report until the regular season is on the verge of beginning. That’s what Berry did last summer when he was unhappy with the fact that he had to play the season under the tag in lieu of a multiyear contract.
  • Browns wide receiver Ricardo Louis has hired super-agent Drew Rosenhaus to represent him, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (Twitter link). As a fourth-round rookie last year, Louis started in three of 16 appearances and logged 18 catches for 205 yards. With three years left on his rookie deal and unspectacular production to date, a pay raise isn’t imminent for Louis.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: A. Smith, Orr, Watson, Landry

It was former Chiefs GM John Dorsey who ultimately pulled the trigger on the team’s draft-day trade that allowed Kansas City to climb all the way up to the No. 10 overall spot and draft quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But now that Dorsey is out and Brett Veach is in, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says it is fair to question what the new hire means for incumbent signal-caller Alex Smith.

But according to Miller, not much will change with respect to the team’s approach to Smith. After all, Veach has been with the Chiefs for the past four years, so it’s not as if he’s coming to Kansas City with a fresh take on the situation. Plus, Miller’s league sources all said effectively the same thing: “nothing changes in Kansas City while Andy Reid is the head coach.” As such, you can still expect the team to move on from Smith after the 2017 season — and save $17MM in the process — as long as Mahomes appears ready to assume control.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com says all is quiet on the Colts/Zach Orr front, and at this point, the team has had plenty of time to sift through Orr’s medicals. Therefore, Bowen does not believe Indianapolis will pursue Orr in an attempt to bolster its linebacker corps.
  • Although Texans GM Rick Smith was not as definitive as head coach Bill O’Brien in declaring Tom Savage the team’s Week 1 starter, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle confirms that Savage will be under center when the regular season gets underway. Rookie signal-caller Deshaun Watson, meanwhile, is content to remain patient and wait for his opportunity. Watson said, “It’s best for the team. Coach [O’Brien] knows a lot of football. He’s been with … one of the best in NFL history in Tom Brady. He knows how everything is operated. He knows when the perfect timing will be.”
  • Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant recently said he took issue with the way Ben Roethlisberger spoke about him to the media earlier this summer, when Big Ben said Bryant would need to “win back everybody’s trust.” That might sound pretty rich for a player who managed to get himself suspended for the entire 2016 campaign, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com nonetheless believes that it is important for Bryant and Roethlisberger to have the sit-down that Bryant proposed. Although such meetings are often unbeneficial formalities, Fowler says Bryant, whose position in the league is fairly tenuous at this point, needs to feel like the catalyst he can be and not become a source of criticism.
  • The Dolphins‘ best bet may be to simply let Jarvis Landry play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and put the franchise tag on him in 2018, as Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders opines. After all, Landry is set to make less than $1MM this year, so even the projected $17MM tag in 2018 would allow Miami to keep Landry for at least two more seasons at about $8.5MM per year, which is well below the $14MM per year he would likely get with a new contract. Although that approach could create some discord between player and team, it does make short-term financial sense.
  • Darryl Slater of NJ.com makes a series of predictions for the Jets, with the most interesting being that he expects Christian Hackenberg to become the team’s starting quarterback no later than Week 12 (New York has a Week 11 bye), and that he expects Todd Bowles to be retained for 2018.

AFC Rumors: Dolphins, Steelers, Jets

The Dolphins released cornerback Brent Grimes in March 2016, which his wife, Miko Grimes, took credit for at the time and again in an interview this week with Jack Dickey of SI.com. “People say I got him cut with my mouth,” said Miko Grimes. “Duh! That was the goal!” While Miko Grimes has taken to Twitter in the past to make anti-Semitic comments about Dolphins brass and attack quarterback Ryan Tannehill, her obnoxious behavior did not spur Brent Grimes’ release, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Rather, the Dolphins cut the now-Buccaneer “because of his size, his age, and the magnitude of his contract,” writes Florio, who adds that they first tried to trade him.

More from a couple other AFC cities:

  • If the Steelers and franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell are going to reach a multiyear agreement by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, it probably won’t come until the 11th hour, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been any movement toward a deal Friday, per Fittipaldo, so it continues to look as if Bell will play the season for $12.12MM.
  • There could still be major changes to the Jets’ defensive line by Week 1, suggests Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The Jets have shopped Sheldon Richardson in recent months, and if a team comes along this summer willing to trade a third-round pick for him, Gang Green should take it, opines Cimini. Steve McLendon, one of Richardson’s prominent line mates, also might not be a lock to remain a Jet into the regular season. New York would like to see second-year nose tackle Deon Simon emerge this summer, and if that happens, it may make McLendon expendable, notes Cimini.
  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this summer that receiver Martavis Bryant will have to “win back everybody’s trust” as he returns from a yearlong suspension. Bryant took exception to that, telling Dan Graziano of ESPN.com on Thursday that he and Roethlisberger “should have a man-to-man. Because some of the things he put out there about me, I kind of didn’t agree with how he did it.” Nevertheless, Bryant added that “everything’s great” between him and the QB at the moment.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Steelers, Browns, Colts

Broncos general manager John Elway is entering a contract year, but the franchise icon expects to sign an extension by the start of the season, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter links). “Yep. I don’t think there will be any doubt,” said Elway, who added that he has no interest in leaving Denver. After thriving as the Broncos’ quarterback from 1983-1998, a stretch in which he won two Super Bowls and made nine Pro Bowls, the Hall of Famer’s success has continued with the organization away from the field. Since Elway took over as the Broncos’ GM five years ago, the club has gone 59-31 with four playoff appearances and another Super Bowl title.

More from the AFC:

  • Speaking with reporters (including Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) on Tuesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was unwilling to say whether he plans to continue his career beyond the upcoming season. “I never commit to anyone more than one year,” stated the 35-year-old Roethlisberger, who indicated that he did seriously consider retiring after last season. “Did you think I was lying?” he said.
  • One of Roethlisberger’s teammates, wide receiver Martavis Bryant, realizes his career is hanging in the balance as a result of the two suspensions he has incurred in three years (via Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today). “I know it’s my last chance,” acknowledged Bryant, who’s back after missing all of last season on account of a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. The 25-year-old doesn’t expect any more off-field slip-ups going forward. Regarding the past year, Bryant stated: “I developed better habits. I changed who I hang around. I’ve become a family man. I just had a son, he’s seven weeks. It’s really me developing my life and getting back on track.”
  • Speaking of troubled receivers, the chances of Josh Gordon ever playing for the Browns again are slim to none, Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland opines (on Twitter). The suspended Gordon, whom the NFL denied reinstatement two weeks ago, can reapply in the fall.
  • The Colts still aren’t sure when safety Clayton Geathers will return from the season-ending neck injury he suffered last December, writes Kevin Bowen of the team’s website. Geathers, who underwent surgery on a bulging disc in March, started in all nine of his appearances as a second-year player in 2016. If Geathers is healthy during the upcoming season, he should be in line to start alongside free safety Malik Hooker, the Colts’ first-round pick. Otherwise, that role could go to T.J. Green.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Brantley, Steelers

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems content to sit at No. 28 rather than trade up, as Drew Davison of the Star Telegram writes. “This is a real good year for staying put,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s because we need so many good football players or because there are some good football players there, especially in those early rounds. But in my experience, it’s wasting your time to talk about what you might do trading in the later rounds.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has been approached about a potential settlement in his assault case, but he has no plans to accept the offer, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter links). Additionally, Brantley’s lawyer says a security guard present during the incident witnessed the victim punch Brantley in the mouth, while Brantley never hit the female as the police report stated (Twitter links). Clearly, it’s a very murky situation, and one that doesn’t figure to be resolved before the draft begins on Thursday night. As such, there’s no clear indication as to how NFL clubs will value Brantley and his potential baggage, but it’s difficult to see how this episode doesn’t affect his draft stock.
  • As part of Martavis Bryant‘s conditional reinstatement, he’s not allowed to participate in Steelers‘ practices or preseason games until he’s located a treating clinician, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. When he’s right, Bryant is one of the more dynamic wide receivers in the NFL, but the league wants to ensure that he’s heading down the correct path. Having been handed a one-year ban in 2016, Bryant will now undergo regular drug tests as he works his way back into the NFL’s — and Pittsburgh’s — good graces.
  • Contrary to previous reports, the Dolphins are not “locked in” on Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, and are not expected to target guard help with the 22nd pick, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Seemingly practitioners of positional-based drafting, the Dolphins are more likely to use their first-round selection on “defensive playmakers” such as corners and, presumably, defensive ends, a position group to which Miami has been heavily linked. Additionally, the Fins seem content with their current veteran guards, Ted Larsen and Jermon Bushrod, per Salguero.
  • Former Vikings center/guard Brandon Fusco is visiting the Patriots today, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Fusco appeared/started in 14 games for Minnesota in 2016.
  • The Chiefs‘ release of Jaye Howard came with a failed physical designation, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes.

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

Steelers’ Martavis Bryant Gets Reinstated

Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL, according to a press release from the Steelers. Bryant may join the Steelers at the training facility and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. “Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Bryant’s clinical resources in Pittsburgh,” he will be permitted to participate in preseason practices and games, paving the way for him to suit up in Week 1 of the regular season.Martavis Bryant (vertical)

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,” GM Kevin Colbert said in the press release.

The conditions of Bryant’s reinstatement are not yet known, but drug tests will surely be a part of his regimen. At some point during the season, he’ll receive full reinstatement if everything checks out.

Bryant had been suspended since March 2016 for multiple failed drug tests. The 25-year-old has looked great when on the field, but he has appeared in only 21 regular season games since entering the league in 2014. If he can stay on track, Bryant has the ability to become the team’s top option at wide receiver after Antonio Brown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.