The Oakland Raiders will be wearing the dunce cap if Martavis Bryant is suspended once more under the league’s substance abuse policy.
Martavis Bryant is talented, but he can’t get out of his own way. The 26-year-old wide receiver missed all of the 2016 season after being suspended for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and there are reports we could be headed that direction again.
Bryant, who was traded during the draft from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick, has only one year left on his deal. In essence, a year-long ban would make Oakland look absurd, considering both his history and the high price it paid to acquire him.
When on the field, Bryant is both productive and one of the best deep threats in the game. As a rookie out of Clemson in 2014, the former ACC star had 549 yards and eight touchdowns on only 26 receptions, an average of 21.1 yards per catch. In 2015, he matched the eight scores while totaling 765 yards. Last year, Bryant slipped to third on the depth chart behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but managed 50 catches and 603 yards.
With the Raiders, Bryant was going to play as a secondary option to Amari Cooper alongside Jordy Nelson, giving Derek Carr an elite deep option. Now, the Raiders might be in a position where Bryant never plays a down for the team.
Regardless of what happens with Bryant, the Raiders have endured an uneven offseason, and that’s being kind. After dropping $100 million to sign head coach Jon Gruden, the team went out and added aging veterans in Derrick Johnson, Doug Martin, Keith Smith, Derek Carrier and Nelson, along with retaining safety Reggie Nelson. In a league that is trending toward athleticism and speed, Oakland and Gruden decided to go in the opposite direction.