Martavis Bryant Gives the Steelers' Offense a Huge Boost
Ben Roethlisberger is likely to land in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after winning multiple Super Bowls and breaking every Steelers franchise passing record. It helps that he currently plays in an offense with other Pro Bowl players in wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, so how could things possibly get any better? He can get help from an old friend.
Bryant was drafted in 2014 and has since missed games due to injuries and suspensions. When he has played, though, his signal-caller's production has spiked.
Per the Rotoviz Game Splits App, Roethlisberger has performed better in every passing category with Bryant on the field since he was drafted in 2014. And if you extrapolate his average of roughly 336 passing yards per game with Bryant over a 16-game season, Big Ben would collect 5,385 yards, ranking third all-time. I generally shy away from taking a stat and applying it to an entire season because it can be misleading, but Roethlisberger has already done this over a 19-game span of time.
Roethlisberger has succeeded with Bryant in the lineup, so as expected, the Steelers offense as a whole has also done better.
The point differential and points scored are remarkably better -- the Steelers went from winning games by just over a field goal to winning by more than a touchdown. They also averaged nearly 30 points per game.
For reference, this rate of points scored per game is better than high-powered offenses such as the New Orleans Saints (26.65 points), New England Patriots (28.62 points), and the Green Bay Packers (26.79 points) averaged in that same period.
When This Baby Hits 80 Miles Per Hour
Antonio Brown is the Steelers' best receiver and there is no debating that. However, Bryant brings big-play ability that even surpasses Brown.
Roethlisberger's adjusted yards per attempt soared when targeting Bryant. He has shown what he can do with these targets when, in 2015, he became the second player in NFL history to catch three touchdown passes of 80-plus yards in an eight-game span. Heck, one of these touchdowns even came from Landry Jones.
Without Bryant, the Steelers depended on Brown for all of their long receiving plays. They attempted to have Sammie Coates take on this role in 2016, but it never really panned out outside of a few plays.
Springfield Retirement Castle
Roethlisberger scared Yinzers half-to-death upon admitting he was considering retirement after the playoff loss against the New England Patriots. Those fears have since dissipated and he's expected to start at quarterback this season. However, the fear still lingers that Roethlisberger could be ending his career sooner than expected.
Adding to the offseason scares, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has hinted at Pittsburgh possibly moving on from Bryant. Based on the aforementioned statistics, this would be regrettable error.
Bringing back a talent like Bryant would not only help the Steelers' already-elite offense improve, but it could also increase the chances of Roethlisberger staying with the team. While cutting a player who has multiple suspensions would make sense in most cases, cutting ties with a player who could help on the field in the short and long term would be a devastating mistake.