<
>

Pittsburgh Steelers GM: We never considered cutting Martavis Bryant

The Pittsburgh Steelers have not considered releasing Martavis Bryant after learning of the receiver's one-year suspension, his second ban in as many seasons.

General manager Kevin Colbert told reporters Sunday at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, that the franchise has had "none whatsoever" thoughts about cutting the talented Bryant, who has 17 touchdowns in 23 NFL games but has struggled away from the team. Bryant served a four-game suspension in 2015 for multiple failed drug tests, and his one-year ban involves drug testing, according to a source.

Bryant had planned to appeal the suspension but that plan was dropped effective Monday, when the league officially announced the suspension.

The Steelers are putting the ball in Bryant's court.

"He has to do what he has to do from a league standpoint," Colbert said via Steelers.com. "He has to do what he has to do from a personal standpoint. We have to prepare for what we have to do without him in 2016. After all that is taken care of, we will revisit it. As of right now, as Art Rooney II said, we support him. But in all honesty, what happens is totally up to him."

Bryant's missed year will not count as an accrued season, so the Steelers will own Bryant's rights for 2017 and 2018 as part of his four-year rookie deal.

Bryant is expected to use his time off from the NFL to seek additional help. During his last suspension, he spent time in Houston with noted counselor John Lucas.

The Steelers will remain explosive on offense behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, arguably the league's best trio. But the team will need third-round pick Sammie Coates to enhance his profile in his second season, of which Colbert told reporters he's confident.

In early March, the team signed veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey to a three-year contract with Bryant's impending suspension in mind.