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Martavis Bryant suspended minimum one season


The Steelers hope next season will open the door to Pittsburgh's ninth Super Bowl appearance, but getting there won't be any easier without Martavis Bryant.

The NFL announced Monday that Bryant has been suspended without pay for a minimum of one year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.


"We are very disappointed that Martavis Bryant has put himself in this current situation of being suspended by the league," Steelers general manager said in a statement Kevin Colbert. "He is at a crossroads of his professional life, and he needs to understand significant changes need to occur in his personal life if he wants to regain his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. We are hopeful that Martavis will take the necessary steps to develop the discipline in his personal life to become a successful player and a good teammate."

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported over the weekend that Bryant was facing a year-long suspension.

In the wake of the development, one of Bryant's agents, Brian Fettner, told USA Today on Saturday that Bryant plans to check into rehab and undergo evaluation for depression.

"We're all stunned, me included," Fettner said. "We clearly miscalculated the issue. His isn't a party issue. It's a coping issue and a depression issue, and he's got to take care of it."

Fettner told USA Today that Bryant missed multiple drug tests. The third-year wideout has been suspended before -- he opened last season with a four-game ban due to multiple violations of the league's substance-abuse policy.

Steelers president Art Rooney II expressed concern for Bryant in January, saying, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Martavis is a player who has tremendous ability and potential, and we just have to continue to work with him to make sure he takes care of his business off the field and puts himself in a position to be as great a player that he can be. ... We hope the experience he had (last) season will have an impact on him."

Bryant was also publicly criticized by Ben Roethlisberger last season, with the Steelers quarterback telling a local radio station that the young pass-catcher needed to "toughen up."

Bryant responded with 14 catches for 183 yards and a touchdown over two playoff games, showing off the sizzling red-zone ability that makes him an asset to Pittsburgh's offense.

With 17 total touchdowns over two seasons, Bryant's value to the Steelers won't easily be masked over. Expect a larger role for second-year receiver Sammie Coates and veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey behind Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton. The addition of enticing former Chargers tight end Ladarius Green also helps, but there's no replacement for Bryant's freaky athleticism.


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