Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Chicago Bears have a problem at wide receiver.
They allowed Alshon Jeffery to walk in free agency, didn’t address the position in the draft, and have lost three starters to injuries six weeks into the season. And even if Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, and Markus Wheaton were healthy enough to contribute, a lack of game-breaking talent would have put a low ceiling on the offense’s upside.
When the offseason rolls around, finding multiple receivers should be a high priority. However, perhaps the front office can plug a hole sooner than expected.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports Steelers receiver Martavis Bryant is unhappy in Pittsburgh and has requested a trade. However, it wasn’t too long after when Bryant tweeted he was happy in Pittsburgh:
Big win today and tomorrow right back to work tomorrow I am happy to be a steeler and can't wait to reach number 7 this year.
— Martavis Bryant (@ThaBestUNO) October 16, 2017
Bryant is a talented receiver, but is also often in trouble.
He was suspended four games in 2015 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, then again for the entire 2016 season. Bryant has also been on the receiving end of some harsh barbs from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Super Bowl champion quarterback accused Bryant of lying to him before and after the suspension back in July 2016, according to the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At the time, Roethlisberger said Bryant needed to “grow up” after the receiver didn’t return his messages as he attempted to extend an olive branch of support.
When he isn’t catching the ire of his quarterback or serving a suspension, Bryant is one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers. He caught 26 passes as a rookie, averaged 21.1 yards per reception, and scored eight touchdowns back in 2014. A year later, he nearly doubled his output and caught 50 passes for 765 yards, adding six more touchdowns.
But 20 missed games in a two-year stretch and locker room issues seem like the kind of red flags the Bears front office tends to avoid. After all, GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox have pushed the likes of Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett out the door for less since arriving in Chicago.
There aren’t any direct ties linking the Bears and Bryant, but there is a clear need and the team could do worse than explore every possible avenue in an attempt to improving the position.
For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets the Steelers don’t plan on trading Bryant. They still see him as a useful piece and a key cog to their offense, even if rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster is eating away at Bryant’s targets.
Of course, things can change as the October 31 trade deadline approaches, but it would be unlikely the team deals a playmaking receiver in a year during its competitive window. But if you’re the Bears, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the phone and gauge the situation.