Martavis Bryant’s yearlong suspension is over.
The NFL conditionally reinstated the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver on Tuesday, clearing the way for the talented but enigmatic Bryant to return to the team to prepare for the 2017 season. The league suspended Bryant in March 2016 for a second violation of its substance abuse policy.
NFL will review Bryant’s progress
Bryant may work out at the team’s training facility and attend meetings. He won’t be allowed to participate in all preseason activities — including games and practices — until the league has confirmed that Bryant has set up “clinical resources” in Pittsburgh. The league will review Bryant’s progress at the end of the preseason before making a determination on his availability going forward.
“Based on his compliance and engagement with his program and resources, he will be permitted to participate in all regular-season activities beginning in Week 1,” the league said in a statement. “He will be evaluated later in the season for full reinstatement.”
The Steelers selected Bryant in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, and he became one of the league’s top deep threats. Bryant caught 76 passes for 1,314 yards during his first two seasons, even though he was inactive for the first six games of his rookie year and missed more than a month at the start of 2015 while serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
WR Martavis Bryant has been conditionally reinstated by the NFL.
READ: https://t.co/nM7zGF8JQ5 pic.twitter.com/fOmddWhZXY
Bryant spent a portion of his 2015 suspension in Houston working with former NBA player and noted substance-abuse counsellor John Lucas. He was spectacular in his return, including a somersaulting touchdown grab in a wild-card win over Cincinnati and nine receptions for 154 yards in a tight loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Denver. The momentum stalled last March when he was suspended for at least a year after again running afoul of the drug policy.
A significant boost
Bryant’s return could give the reigning AFC North champions a significant boost. Pittsburgh reached the AFC title game last season but struggled to find a consistent threat at wide receiver outside of All-Pro Antonio Brown. If Bryant is cleared and stays out of trouble, the Steelers could have one of the league’s best offences behind Brown, Bryant, running back Le’Veon Bell and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Of course, that’s a pretty big “if.”
“We appreciate that he has taken the necessary steps in an effort to get his personal life in order,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “We also understand this is just the beginning as he works to return to the team and meet all of the conditions of his reinstatement.”
Colbert added that the team is committed to getting Bryant “mentally and physically prepared to contribute to our efforts on the field, while also maintaining the proper balance to keep his life in order off the field.”
The Steelers begin organized team activities next month.