- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant requested a trade from the team after growing unhappy with his role on offence.
- Bryant got into hot water with the team when he crticized his teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster on Instagram.
- Bryant is now likely to be benched for the Steelers’ Week 8 game, raising some eyebrows as the trade deadline approaches on October 31.
After requesting a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in October, wide receiver Martavis Bryant is expected to be inactive for Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions.
Bryant told reporters on Wednesday that he was demoted to the scout team in practice (a sign a player will be inactive that week) and then was told he wouldn’t be playing in Week 8.
The decision comes after a series of incidents since Bryant first requested a trade after growing unhappy with his role in the offence.
Bryant told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that he was benched because of social media. On Sunday, Bryant criticised Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster after an Instagram user said Smith-Schuster is better than Bryant.
“[He’s] nowhere near better than me, fool,” Bryant wrote, according to Fowler. “All they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have JuJu and whoever else.”
On Tuesday, Bryant told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he wanted to be more involved in the offence, saying, “If they don’t try to include me more and continue to do the same thing, then I want out, period.”
On Wednesday, Bryant told Fowler: “I’m not going to hide how I feel. What happened has happened … If I’m not traded I’m going to work my butt off here, and whatever happens happens. You’re not going to hear me complaining no more.”
It’s unclear where the Steelers and Bryant go from here. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers won’t trade Bryant, but benching him one week before the October 31 trade deadline raises some eyebrows. Perhaps the Steelers were mad at Bryant for his behaviour on social media, but benching him also may be a way to ensure he stays healthy for a trade.
In 2014 and 2015, Bryant produced over 1,300 combined yards and 14 touchdowns. After missing the 2016 season for a suspension, Bryant has 18 catches for 234 yards and one touchdown this season.
Bryant remains a potent deep threat and a good complement for Antonio Brown, but as his situation becomes more of a distraction — something Tomlin acknowledged — the Steelers may be forced to move on from him.
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