Will free agent wide receiver Martavis Bryant be able to resume his NFL career in 2020, assuming there is a season at all? It’s hard to say for sure but according to a Monday tweet by Sirius Radio contributor Rudy Carpenter, Bryant, who has been indefinitely suspended from the NFL since 2018, has now officially applied for reinstatement.
In December of 2018, Bryant, who was a member of the Oakland Raiders at the time, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement from a previous ban, the league announced in a statement. The NFL had previously suspended Bryant four games in 2015 and the entire 2016 season for repeated drug violations.
“Effective immediately, Martavis Bryant has been returned to the Reserve/Commissioner Suspended list indefinitely for violating the terms of his April 2017 conditional reinstatement under the Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse,” the league announced in that December of 2018 statement.
While the new CBA agreement dramatically relaxes the substance-abuse policy, ending all suspensions for positive tests and tying one-year banishments only to seven separate failures to cooperate with testing or to comply with the terms of a clinical treatment program, it’s still hard to tell if that was good news for players who currently are suspended indefinitely for positive drug tests.
According to a March report by Pro Football Talk, the new CBA says nothing about, for example, the potential no-questions-asked, clean-slate reinstatement of players like Bryant, Josh Gordon and Randy Gregory. A league source at that time reportedly indicated that those players would be required to go through the usual and normal reinstatement procedures, which did not change under the new labor deal. The NFL Commissioner reportedly still has “sole discretion” to determine whether a player is reinstated and the Commissioner still has no deadline for making a decision.
Last week, Gordon, who like Bryant is also currently a free agent, reportedly applied for reinstatement through the NFL Players Association, which will submit the application to the NFL. Gregory also reportedly applied for reinstatement in March. Neither has been reinstated as of yet, however.
Bryant, who was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Clemson, was traded to the Raiders during the 2018 NFL Draft in exchange for a third-round selection that year, the No. 79th pick overall. Bryant played in just eight games for the Raiders during the 2018 season and caught just 19 passes for 266 yards before being suspended indefinitely.
Should Bryant ultimately be reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell this summer, there’s a good chance a team might be interested in signing him for the league minimum for his accrued seasons to give him a shot to compete for a roster spot during training camp. Even so, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers and Raiders being a team willing to give Bryant another shot.
Bryant is now just 28 years old so it’s fathomable that he still might have the necessary long speed that’s required to be a legitimate deep pass threat in the NFL. Like many other uncertainties surrounding the NFL right now, we’ll have to wait and see if Bryant is ultimately reinstated and if so, if there’s a team out there wiling to sign him right away.
During his three season with the Steelers, Bryant caught 126 passes for 1917 yards and 17 touchdowns.