Wide receiver Martavis Bryant was one of the most enigmatic players in recent Pittsburgh Steelers history. Not quite a mere flash in the pan, the 2014 fourth-round wide receiver had a strong first two seasons in the league while displaying growth before his career was sidetracked due to suspensions stemming from violations of the league’s personal conduct policy on the use of marijuana, which has since changed.
Bryant served a four-game suspension to start his second season, and then was suspended for the entire 2016 season, and had a tumultuous year upon his return in 2017 before being traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round draft pick. He didn’t last a full season before he was suspended again, indefinitely this time.
He never received formal reinstatement, indeed never formally applied for reinstatement, and eventually, he signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League a little over 13 months ago. But he never reported to the team in July, and was released after the season in December.
Now he has reportedly been signed by the Edmonton Elks at the end of February, as the team announced. It remains to be seen whether or not he will show. Initially, the Argonauts cited issues with Bryant obtaining a passport for the reason he did not report to training camp.
“The ball is in his court. He needs to get his passport and get those things squared away”, Argonauts head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said back in July. “We’ll see how that’s going to play out”, he added, without sounding very optimistic, which proved to be with good reason.
But Bryant did participate in football in 2021, playing for the Massachusetts Pirates in the Indoor Football League in April. He caught two passes for 13 yards during his time there, apparently, all on one of the two receptions.
Bryant has caught 145 passes during his NFL career for 3,183 yards and 17 touchdowns. During his three seasons playing in Pittsburgh, in 36 total games, he registered 126 receptions for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns, which would work out to an average of 60 receptions for 905 yards and eight touchdowns over a 17-game season.
He was also a top performer during the postseason. In four games played, he registered 21 receptions for 322 yards and three touchdowns, including a team postseason-record 154 receiving yards against the Denver Broncos in the 2015 Divisional Round game.
Quick, fast, and tall, Bryant was one of the most physically gifted athletes whenever he was on the field, but unfortunately, his lack of maturity and unwillingness or inability to refrain from using substances that violated the terms of his employment caused his career to go off the rails, which could have been quite a promising one.
He has not played an NFL game since 2018, and has hardly played football at all since then. Teams were still showing interest in him during the 2020 offseason, but he never filed for reinstatement from suspension, for unknown reasons, even though the personal conduct policy had been softened during the 2020 CBA negotiations.