Colbert: Steelers never considered cutting Bryant

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert responds to a question during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Indianapolis.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert responds to a question during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Indianapolis.
Photo by AP
Mark Kaboly
| Sunday, March 20, 2016, 1:00 p.m.

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Steelers never considered cutting ties with embattled wide receiver Martavis Bryant, even though he was suspended for the 2016 season by the NFL — his second league suspension in less than eight months.

General manager Kevin Colbert said Sunday at the Boca Raton Resort and Club at the NFL's annual meeting that the Steelers did not contemplate releasing Bryant following his latest suspension of a minimum of one year handed down last week by the league for multiple violations of the league's substance abuse policy.

“No,” Colbert said. “None whatsoever. He has to do what he has to do from a league standpoint. 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, but as of right now, as (Steelers president) Art (Rooney II) said, we support him, but in all honesty, what happens is totally up to him.”

Bryant was suspended after reportedly failing to appear for at least two drug tests. A missed drug test is considered a failed drug test by the league.

Bryant was suspended for four games at the start of 2015 for violating the substance-abuse policy. A suspension doesn't incur until the fourth such failure. A fifth is a 10-game suspension and the sixth is a year suspension.

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

Bryant will be able to apply for reinstatement Jan. 13.

Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon has yet to be reinstated by Goodell 14 months after getting suspended for a season for multiple violations.

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

Colbert said Bryant's suspension won't dictate what the Steelers will do in the upcoming NFL Draft. Even though they won't be actively seeking a wide receiver, they wouldn't pass on one they like.

Colbert said they liked how Sammie Coates, last year's third-round pick, has come along in possibly replacing Bryant.

“We feel good about Sammie Coates and his development,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately, Martavis won't be a part of the team in 2016, but Sammie Coates will be.”

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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