I don’t know what Martavis Bryant is thinking. And that is not a dramatic statement. I mean, literally, I don’t know what is going on in his head and what he really means. I don’t know if he secretly does harbor a legitimate desire to be traded to another team that would afford him a bigger role with more opportunities.
But I do know that he has pretty much said and done all the right things within the public sphere since—well, since after the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, anyway, during which he caused a minor, though insignificant stir in his reaction to the Steelers’ drafting of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
He said—jokingly, he later claimed—that the USC product’s addition was meant to take the place of fellow wide receiver Sammie Coates, rather than his, which proved to be true, as Coates was later traded. He was originally drafted as insurance against Bryant’s off-field issues, as the team has said.
Since the season has begun, however, Smith-Schuster has taken on a bigger role in the offense than has Bryant, out-snapping him in each of the past four weeks. The rookie’s ability to play both in the slot and the outside, as well as his role as a blocker and his performance on third down, has earned him more playing time than the third-year man.
But any frustrations that he might be feeling have not come to fruition within the public space. Every interview he has given that I have seen showed a sober and thoughtful individual with a clear head and a good attitude toward the future and of the work that he must put in.
Is it possible that he is frustrated that a rookie is playing more than he is, after some of the things that he has accomplished earlier in his career? Could he possible see the writing on the wall, envisioning a reduced role for himself in the future, that has him thinking about landing in a less crowded wide receiver room?
Like I said, I don’t know what he is thinking. I can only assume that’s possible. His girlfriend certainly seems to think so. Sure, Bryant has worn custom cleats that suggest that he feels he is not being targeted enough, but that is what every wide receiver thinks. Any good wide receiver anyway.
Just prior to Sunday’s game, I wrote an article in which I noted that Bryant expressed optimism about things turning around for his offensive production. He also expressed patience and understanding, and said that he understands that he needs to be more consistent when his opportunities do come.
If there is much of any truth behind the various reports that surfaced after the game, then there is a great divide between Bryant’s attitude in front of the camera and behind the scenes. And if that is the case, then honestly, it’s not entirely unfair. He’s not the one that leaked this report, and, is probably as annoyed by it as anybody else, regardless of whether or not it’s actually true.