The Pittsburgh Steelers are rolling this year, but they may have to continue their winning ways without wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The wideout has been very vocal about his views on his current playing time via social media, and it looks like those posts are going to cost him. According to the Associated Press, Bryant will be riding the pine in the foreseeable future, because of his social media outburst. Bryant says he’s “fine,” but he’s clearly not pleased with his limited role this season.
The crux of the “outburst” involved Bryant complaining that he should be benched in favor of rookie WR Juju Smith-Schuster. After the Steelers’ route of the Cincinnati Bengals, Bryant complained on Instagram about his lack of playing time and said he wants to be on a team where he “gets mine.” The team didn’t respond to the initial comments, hoping Bryant would tone it down in the ensuing days. Instead, he doubled down, saying he felt like he was the best receiver on the team and that he should be playing more. Statistically, Bryant is the number three receiver, with 18 receptions through seven games. And he’s also coming off a year where he was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In a year where he needs to be making friends, it increasingly appears like he’s beginning to alienate his teammates … and he’s certainly not winning any points with head coach Mike Tomlin.
After Pittsburgh demolished Kansas City, the media asked Bryant straight up if he was angling for a trade. He insisted he isn’t interested, promising to “work my butt off here…” … though he did say, he would accept a trade if it came. Tomlin says Bryant’s job is safe, and the receiver says he’s learned his lesson about mouthing off: “You’re not going to hear me complain or nothing no more, I’m just going to be quiet and let everything fall in place.” It’s a tough line to walk. Playing wide receiver in the NFL is a prestige position in a league that is based almost entirely on What Have You Done For Me Lately. If a receiver is on the field but not getting looks, soon they are not on the field as much. If they’re not even on the field, and the team keeps winning, they are likely to stay right where they are.
Based on that truism, things don’t look too promising for Bryant in Pittsburgh. But how he handles the stress and disappointment will play a big role in what happens next, wherever he is next season.