Steelers notebook: Rooney weighs in on issues surrounding team
Art Rooney II was satisfied with the way Martavis Bryant responded from a four-game suspension to start the season for failing the NFL's substance abuse policy.
However, the Steelers' team president on Thursday said to small group of print reporters that he still is in a wait-and-see mode with their play-making second-year wide receiver over the long haul.
“I hope the experience he had earlier in the season had an impact on him, but it is one of those things that only time will tell,” Rooney said.
The collective bargaining agreement suggested Bryant would need at least four positive drug tests before getting suspended.
“Martavis is a player who has tremendous ability and potential,” Rooney said. “We have to continue to work with him to make sure he takes care of his business off the field and put himself in position to be as great a player he can be. He is one of those guys where the sky is the limit.”
Bryant played in 11 games and finished with 50 receptions for 765 yards and six touchdowns. He turned up his game a notch after Ben Roethlisberger called him out prior to the wild-card game against the Bengals.
Bryant had five receptions for 29 yards and an acrobatic touchdown in the win over the Bengals then stepped up with Antonio Brown out of the AFC divisional game and caught nine passes for 154 yards.
“I thought he worked hard, he worked hard this year and certainly contributed in a lot of games, particularly the last game,” Rooney said. “We are looking forward to continue to have him develop.”
Le'Veon Bell's knee injury isn't tied to a possible contract extension even if it was the second one in as many years.
Bell's rookie contract is set to expire following the 2016 year, meaning the Steelers will have until the start of the upcoming season — early September — to decide whether or not to extend Bell.
Rooney said Bell's current injury will have nothing to do with their decision of presenting an extension or not.
“I think we've seen enough,” Rooney said. “So, it really is going to come down to kind of how his contract situation fits in with all the others. I always say it's kind of a jigsaw puzzle you have to put together every year. And so how will these pieces fit together this year versus next? Unfortunately, you have to make choices. You can't always get everybody done at once, and so that's the process we'll go through over the next couple months.”
In 2014, Bell gained more than 2,000 all-purpose yards. He was well on his way to surpassing 1,000 yards rushing when he injured his knee in a Nov. 1 game against the Bengals.
“I think he's somebody that we would like to continue to have on the team for the long run,” Rooney said.
No help wanted
Roethlisberger will turn 34 in March, but Rooney said there is no immediate need for the team to look for his replacement.
“I don't think we are starting down that road of who is next after Ben,” Rooney said. “As far as I am concerned, Ben didn't show much sign of falling off this year.”
Rooney, however, said the team will look into its backup quarterback situation.
More money for Brown?
The Steelers stepped out of their comfort zone with Brown last year and moved money from his 2016 salary into 2015 to give him a $2 million raise. The Steelers don't negotiate contracts with players other than quarterbacks more than a year out, and Brown had three left on his deal.
Rooney didn't say the same process will be used this year when it comes to Brown, but he didn't deny it either. The Steelers could do a similar adjustment this year then be able to extend Brown before the 2017 season without breaking their longtime rule.
“I don't like to speculate what we are going to do about a player's contract,” Rooney said. “We had a number of players over the years to make contract adjustments with. We have to be cautious how we do it. We will address that as offseason goes on.”
Odds and ends
Rooney said the organization still has a couple of years to present a plan to host a Super Bowl. He said there has been a task force working on the strongest bid they can make and said there is “still a ways to go.” … Nobody requested to interview any Steelers coach, but the Eagles did ask — and were granted permission — to interview pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt (Pine-Richland) for their open director of football operations position. … Rooney said they will have work to do to get salary cap compliant but it is a “manageable situation.” … Rooney said the extracurricular stuff that occurred during the Bengals games is not wanted in the league and added: “I'll say this much, I was never sure that we'd see the day when the Bengals were such a bitter rival as they are today.”