Martavis Bryant has put the Pittsburgh Steelers into a bit of a problem. Or maybe a big problem. The two-year veteran failed a drug test, as first reported by DKPittsburghSports.com, and is facing a two-year suspension from the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.
Now the Steelers are scrambling to figure out what to do with Bryant, and who will take his place on the field. The Steelers have Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates all on their roster. Ironically, when Coates was participating in the 2015 NFL Combine, his NFL comparison was Bryant.
Coats seems like a front runner to be his replacement. The wide receiver, who only caught one pass last season for 11 yards, appeared in six games in his rookie season. In the postseason against the Denver Broncos, Coates had 61 receiving yards off two receptions from Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers might not have given him much opportunity to prove himself in his rookie season, but his sophomore season could, and should, be big.
Also in the spotlight is Heyward-Bey. The veteran receiver, who also spent time in Oakland and Indianapolis in his career, appeared in all 16 regular season games and even started four. He caught 21 passes for 314 yards and scored two touchdowns. After being known as a player to drop passes, he limited the number in his time with the Steelers.
Heyward-Bey also fills the gap as far as height goes for offense. Heyward-Bey is 6’2 while Coates is 6’1. Both Wheaton is 5’11 while Brown is only 5’10. The Steelers could also look to draft Michael Thomas (6’3) from Ohio State, De’Runnya Wilson (6’5) from Mississippi State, or Geronimo Allison (6’3) from Illinois.
The Steelers have plenty of options in the NFL Draft, which will occur from April 28-30, and even still in the free agency. Brandon LaFell and Marques Colston are notable names still on the free agency market.
Update: Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that the Steelers made it official that Bryant will serve a year-long suspension, without pay, for the 2016 NFL season.