The on-again, off-again relationship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and their talented, yet mercurial receiver Martavis Bryant is traversing rough waters once again.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that Bryant wants a trade out of Pittsburgh if his role in the offense doesn’t change. And if the Steelers don’t push through a deal, Bryant is reportedly prepared to play out his contract and depart after the 2018 season. This is the second time in less than 10 days that Bryant was rumored to request a deal out of Pittsburgh.
Shortly after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Bryant’s unhappiness in his current situation, the Steelers wideout tweeted a denial and added how much he wanted to help the franchise win its seventh Super Bowl. However, it seems as if those feelings didn’t last long.
The Steelers aren’t obligated to trade Bryant, who is under contract for the next two seasons. And once again, we’re reminded Fowler recently tweeted the team had no plans to trade Bryant and Head Coach Mike Tomlin insisted Bryant was unavailable in trade talks. However, things can change quickly in the NFL. The Steelers could ultimately decide to cut their losses, make a deal, and get something in return for Bryant rather than watch him play out the rest of his term and not get the kind of compensation they would otherwise seek.
So for the second time in eight days, we find ourselves asking whether or not the Bears should be interested in acquiring Bryant?
JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago offers up some answers on why the Bears would want Bryant in the first place.
Obviously, the Bears have needs (yes, multiple) at receiver … even if rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky is throwing an average of 18 passes per start. Bryant’s presence alone would change the dynamic of the Bears offense and could force teams to defend a little more honestly, which could give running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen more room to operate. Perhaps adding Bryant could also free up some up some space in the middle of the field so tight ends Zach Miller, Adam Shaheen, and Dion Sims can be playmakers on offense.
For the sake of debate, let’s say the Bears and Steelers shocked the football world and made a deal. If it doesn’t work out for the remainder of Bryant’s contract, the Bears wouldn’t have spent a ton of cash ($1.32 million) or potential draft capital (Stankevitz estimates the cost being a low-round pick) on a short-term miscalculation.
But every transaction which comes with a rich reward also comes with a high level of risk.
A resurgent Leonard Floyd recently spoke up about changing the culture in Chicago, and it’s worth noting the Bears have traded more accomplished players (Brandon Marshall, Martellus Bennett) for lesser offenses than the ones plaguing Bryant. There’s also risk in Bryant’s production dipping without defenses having to account for Antonio Brown lining up on the other side of the field. After all, it’s one of the reasons Pittsburgh was able and willing to allow Markus Wheaton to walk away when his rookie contract expired.
If the Steelers are completely against the idea of trading Bryant, this whole conversation is moot. However, nothing can explicitly ruled out in the NFL, especially after watching the New Orleans Saints trade Adrian Peterson in a rare midseason deal.