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Steelers' Rooney disappointed in WR Bryant for suspension

| Friday, March 18, 2016, 2:48 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant runs from Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick during the third quarter of the AFC wild-card game Saturday, Jan. 9. 2016, in Cincinnati.

About two months ago, Steelers president Art Rooney II was upbeat about the progress receiver Martavis Bryant made following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

On Friday, less than a week after the NFL suspended Bryant for at least one season for violating the policy again, Rooney said he was hoping to assist Bryant in getting help.

“It is very disappointing. At the same time, we hope, to the extent where it is allowable, we will try to get him help, make sure he gets rehab and those kinds of things, but it is a disappointing situation to say the least,” Rooney said while addressing reporters ahead of next week's NFL annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla.

It was the first public comments Rooney made since Bryant's suspension was handed down Monday.

“There is not much to say other than we're disappointed and hope that he can deal with the situation and have the discipline that is necessary to be a player in the National Football League,” Rooney said.

The NFL announced a “minimum” one-year suspension for Bryant without pay after he violated the drug policy for reportedly the fifth and sixth times in littler more than 24 months. Bryant's suspension began immediately, and he was placed on the Reserved/Suspended by the Commissioner list.

Bryant was suspended for four games at the start of last season for failing his fourth drug test. Recently altered drug rules allows for three failed tests before a suspension.

Bryant reportedly missed multiple tests, which count the same as failed tests. A fifth failed test results in a 10-game suspension. A sixth is a season-long suspension.

Bryant's representatives told USA Today on Saturday that Bryant suffers from depression and that they were looking into entering Bryant into a rehab facility.

It is unknown whether Bryant has entered rehab. His agent, Tom Santanello, did not return a message.

The Steelers will stick by Bryant unless there are other developments, Rooney said.

Bryant, a fourth-round pick in 2014, will have two seasons remaining on his contract after he is reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell. Rooney confirmed that Bryant's 2016 contract will be tolled, thus extending his contract until after the 2018 season.

Bryant can apply for reinstatement Jan. 13, 2017. Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon has yet to be reinstated by Goodell 14 month after being suspended for one season for multiple violations.

Bryant will have to forfeit his entire 2016 salary of $600,000. However, the Steelers will be credited that amount toward this season's salary cap. The Steelers also will get credit for a prorated portion of Bryant's signing bonus that works out to $109,805.

Teams are required under the collective-bargaining agreement to recoup signing bonuses for performance-enhancing drug and substance-abuse suspensions.

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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