The drama continues in As The Steelers Turn. After a thrilling win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the news shifted in the evening amid reports that Martavis Bryant asked the Pittsburgh Steelers for a trade.
Gone was the excitement of Antonio Brown’s miraculous catch or Le’Veon Bell’s superhero-like day. The focus squarely on Bryant’s rumors, true or not, and if the former, how likely would it be for a trade to happen By now, you’ve probably seen Jeremy Fowler’s report that the Steelers weren’t going to do that.
And it’s the no-brainer decision. The only thing dumber than Bryant asking for a trade is the Steelers green-lighting it.
There’s no replacing him. Not now, at least. He’s 6’4, 230 pounds and runs a 4.4 40. There’s nothing else you can get in a trade, no one else on the team, no one sitting on the street who can fill that void. That’s not to say Bryant has been perfect. He needs to get better. But Bryant is the only guy capable of rising to such a level.
It’s still an offense that is at its best when it has a strong vertical component. As Todd Haley repeats everytime he’s asked the question, the Steelers have a deep route in almost every passing concept. That’s how they sealed the deal versus Kansas City. A switch vertical route that hit Brown deep down the left sideline for an eventual 51 yard touchdown, even if there was a little luck involved.
And the Steelers will again, sooner or later, rely on that vertical attack. No one fits the profile better than Bryant. With more snaps, more time on the field, and the farther away he gets from the time he missed under suspension, the more likely these plays start to hit.
Even if the Steelers felt comfortable with replacing him, there’s no way they get a proper return on value. Bryant is damaged goods, one failed test from another suspension. There’s no gaggle of teams looking to take that risk. Maybe there a a couple but the Steelers would lack leverage. They’d have to take what they could get. Odds are, it would be table scraps.
And whatever return comes back would likely be in the form of a draft pick. Player-for-player deals that involve big names like Bryant’s are rare. Mid-season, it’s almost unheard of. There’s no incentive to trade away that kind of weapon for a future investment. It’s win now. Trading for Vance McDonald. Signing Joe Haden. Trading Bryant is counter-intuitive for the Steelers’ 2017 philosophy.
Pittsburgh knows how important wide receiver depth is. Cobi Hamilton wound up having to be a valuable contributor last year. And I can not live with seeing Justin Hunter log 50 snaps a game.
Maybe Bryant is unhappy the rest of the year. He’ll have to suck it up. An unhappy Bryant is better than no Bryant at all. During the offseason, a move could happen. When there’s a chance for the Steelers to find a proper playmaker to replace him. And we know the team has an eye for evaluating and finding receivers.
But now? No way.
The drama is annoying, sure.
Losing is ten times worse.