2017 South Side Questions: Could Steelers Really Entertain Trading Bryant?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Would the Steelers really trade Martavis Bryant, and what could they hope to get for him?

According to multiple reports that surfaced and corroborated one another last night, third-year Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant earlier this season requested a trade, citing unhappiness with his role in the offense.

Despite the fact that his snap counts have gone down in recent weeks, he has still more often than not been the second-most targeted wide receiver in games behind Antonio Brown, who is of course always going to see as many targets as possible, even if it doesn’t always make sense.

But even though he may not necessarily be a traditional starter, as the Steelers do rotate a fair amount, he is still an important member of the team and in particular crucial depth. The team found out last season how quickly supposed depth can erode beneath your feet if injuries hit.

Bryant is still seeing more than half of the Steelers’ snaps on offense, even though he was only targeted three times yesterday, making two catches (including one for 20 yards on a slant with yards after the catch.

If something should happen to Brown, or to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, then the Steelers don’t have somebody to adequately replace them. Eli Rogers is mostly limited to the slot, while Justin Hunter is a poor man’s version of a poor man’s version of Bryant. Darrius Heyward-Bey is…a gunner.

I do not think that the Steelers are even really entertaining the trade, and a report last night suggested that they are not interested in doing so at the moment. But let’s say they are, or will be, especially now that it’s out there, and teams are calling them. Maybe they’re thinking they can re-sign Demarcus Ayers to take his place, I don’t know. What can they get for him?

Even his value is hard to pin down. He has a resume of touchdowns, but that was two years ago. He has only had small flashes this year, and has ample off-the-field baggage. Requesting a trade while returning from a year-long drug suspension is another piece of luggage teams looking to bring him in have to consider.

All things considered, it would surprise me if a team offered more than a late-round draft pick for Bryant, which a high end of the fifth round. He hasn’t proven to be the same player that he was yet, so a team would have to gamble on him, while taking on somebody who is demonstrating that he is still a head case to some degree.

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