PITTSBURGH — The Martavis Bryant saga took another turn Monday when the talented but disgruntled receiver didn’t show up for Steelers meetings because of an illness.
Thomas Santanello, Bryant’s agent, said Bryant went to see a doctor Monday morning. Bryant was not in the Steelers facility, and his locker chair was folded during the media’s 45-minute window of open access Monday afternoon.
This is not the first time Bryant missed a workday with an illness. He did not participate in a Saturday walk-through before the Week 5 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he missed two practice days with an illness in Week 4, too.
Bryant refueled his trade request late Sunday night with comments on Instagram, and a source close to Bryant affirmed that the receiver “wants out, point-blank.”
Bryant, who had one catch for 3 yards in a 29-14 win over Cincinnati Bengals, responded to a fan’s Instagram comment that rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster was better than him.
“JuJu is no where near better than me, fool,” Bryant commented. “All they need to do is give me what I want and y’all can have JuJu and whoever else.”
Bryant then clarified those remarks with a new comment that tagged Smith-Schuster, the rookie who caught a 31-yard touchdown Sunday and has cut into Bryant’s playing time. Bryant called Smith-Schuster “the future” but adds, “I just want mines, period, point-blank,” citing his hard work coming back from 2016 suspension for multiple drug violations.
One team source said Bryant clearly was frustrated on the field Sunday and wasn’t really into the game late. Sources have maintained the Steelers do not intend to trade Bryant. He has worked hard in recent practices and hasn’t been a problem in that area. In fact, Bryant thought he would be central to the Week 7 game plan based on the week of practices.
Smith-Schuster said he has been in contact with Bryant and the two are in a “good place.” Smith-Schuster understands what Bryant is going through as a receiver who wants more targets.
“There’s only one ball. We have so many athletes on the field. It’s tough,” Smith-Schuster said. “At the end of the day, we have to do what’s best for our team…Hopefully we do get him the ball more. He’s a great player, great athlete. I would like him to be on our team. Moving forward, I think he’s going to be big for us.”
On Monday, after a second straight win, the Steelers were left to answer questions about Bryant for the absent player.
“Everyone here is grown. We’re all going to have different thoughts and opinions,” linebacker Bud Dupree said. “He’s going to handle it on his own. We’re here so we’re still friends.”