There usually has to be some sort of significant problem to make a quarterback happy to see one of his targets leave. Repetition is an essential part of having a successful rapport between the two positions, and you’re starting from scratch when you have to replace a chief component in your offense.
That is what the Pittsburgh Steelers must do this offseason after they traded their number three receiver, Martavis Bryant, to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a mid-third-round draft pick, replacing him with James Washington as a 2018 second-rounder.
“I was kind of bummed because I liked him”, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said about when he heard of the trade. “I liked what he was able to do on the football field for us and help us. Obviously he has his turmoils and troubles and made some comments about wanting out, but overall I really enjoyed having him around”.
Much of Roethlisberger’s relationship with Bryant since his rookie season has been one of a tough love variety, repeatedly using public comments to relay messages to the young wide receiver, whether it was about some thing on the field or off of it. But he’ll never complain about throwing to a tall target.
“That’s the higher-ups deciding that a third-rounder was [more] important. I will miss him. I enjoyed our time with him”, Roethlisberger said during his radio interview appearance on 93.7 FM. When asked if he thought Bryant might still be here if he wasn’t so vocal about his frustration and desire to be traded, he had a tough time answering, but yielded an uncertain “yeah, maybe? I don’t know”.
He did say that the two have spoken since the trade, saying, “he seems like he’s happy. He seems like he’s in a good place. I think with his family, it’s kind of a starting over for him, so if he’s happy I’m happy for him. I told him I wish he was still here, but I’m still rooting for him”.
The relationship between Roethlisberger and Bryant has certainly been a complicated one. The quarterback wasn’t happy at all with how Bryant got himself suspended, and how he wasn’t much in communication during that time. It was enough for him to tell reporters that he needed to have a one-on-one talk with him after the receiver returned from suspension.
Still, their relationship seemed to be a brotherly one with Roethlisberger ultimately wanting the best for his troubled younger sibling, but being disappointed in watching him hurt himself. But in spite of that he was never fully within Roethlisberger’s circle of trust, hiding some of his frustrations from the quarterback, as evidenced by Roethlisberger’s comments.
“I never really got the sense that he wasn’t happy”, he said, talking about how wide receivers always want more touches than they’re getting. “All those guys are kind of the same, they all want as many touches as possible. On one side of the coin it’s a great thing, on the other side it’s hard to keep everyone happy all the time”.