Steelers trade WR Martavis Bryant to Raiders for 3rd-round pick |
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Joe Rutter
The Steelers' Martavis Bryant picks up yardage past the Browns' Briean Boddy-Calhoun during the second quarter Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, at Heinz Field.

The Steelers traded wide receiver Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night for a third-round draft pick, the No. 79 overall selection of the draft.

In 2017, Bryant’s first season back in the NFL since serving a one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, he had 50 catches for 603 yards and three touchdowns. Bryant was unhappy with his role in the offense and was benched for a mid-season game against the Detroit Lions after calling out rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on social media.

Bryant will be a free agent after the 2018 season, and general manager Kevin Colbert said at the NFL Combine that the Steelers had no interest in trading Bryant.

Colbert repeated that stance Thursday night after making the trade, indicating that the offer from the Raiders was too good to ignore.

“We weren’t interested in trading Martavis,” he said. “We weren’t making calls in that regard. Teams were calling us.

“They weren’t offering anything that interested us in trading a player of his caliber.

“We felt (the third round pick) is something that is very interesting to us and we pulled the trigger on that deal.”The Steelers entered this year’s draft without a fourth-round pick after trading it to the San Francisco 49ers last year for tight end Vance McDonald.

“This makes up for the vacancy in the fourth,” Colbert said.

The Steelers now will have three picks Friday, a second and two thirds.

Bryant was the team’s fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft. He had 126 receptions for 1,917 yards and 17 touchdowns in three seasons with the Steelers.

With the Steelers, Bryant was destined to the be the No. 2 receiver behind All-Pro Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster pushed him for playing time last season and likely will move into the No. 2 spot. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Hunter remain on the roster, and the Steelers could re-sign slot receiver Eli Rogers once he recovers from a torn ACL.

Could Steelers benefit from Browns’ pick?

When the Cleveland Browns selected Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the No. 4 overall pick, did it spell good news for the Steelers in the next decade?

The last two times the Browns used a top-10 pick on a cornerback that player ended up finding his way to the Steelers.

In 2010, the Browns took Joe Haden with the No. 7 overall pick. Haden will begin his second season with the Steelers in 2018 after signing a three-year deal with the team on Aug. 31, a few hours after the Browns released him in a cost-cutting move.

In 2016, the Steelers traded for cornerback Justin Gilbert the week before the season opener. Gilbert was the No. 8 overall pick by the Browns two years earlier. Gilbert played sparingly in 12 games with the Steelers, who released him in January 2017.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

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