The Pittsburgh Steelers were hit hard by the one-year suspension of Martavis Bryant, but they don’t plan on changing their draft plan because of a wide receiver removed from the depth chart. Their plans are still to focus on the defensive side of the ball, and specifically at cornerbacks.
Bryant has his own demons to face following a season in which he was the second leading pass-catcher on the Steelers. His second NFL season after being a 4th round pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Bryant caught 50 passes in 11 games for 765 yards and six touchdowns, giving Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers another reliable target for their fantastic passing game. Losing Bryant, who doesn’t plan to appeal or fight his punishment, doesn’t seem to change their plans. The Steelers aren’t releasing Bryant, whose suspension year won’t count against his contract. Once he’s reinstated, he’ll have two more years left on his deal with the Steelers.
General manager Kevin Colbert spoke to reporters and said the Steelers don’t feel like they need to replace Bryant with a pass catcher in the draft, although that doesn’t mean they won’t draft a wide receiver if it’s the right player for them at that particular moment. The Steelers focused on offensive players in free agency because of the depth in most defensive positions in the 2016 draft, which is especially true for defensive linemen and defensive backs.
Do the Steelers take a cornerback with their first pick? That’s not certain at all. Most mock drafts have them going in a different direction, probably cornerback. One player on their roster that needs to worry is Cortez Allen. He seems to be on the roster bubble, with his health being questionable and head coach Mike Tomlin possibly not thinking he’s capable of improving and bringing some sort of impact to the field when he plays.
The Steelers aren’t done with free agency, despite their $2.1 million cap space remaining. However, like most teams in the ongoing offseason, they’ve moved their focus on what the draft has to offer. The Steelers still need to make some contract changes or released in order to fit in their draft picks, unless they plan on trading most of them.