NFL: 5 Most Important Players Suspended in 2016
The NFL has handed out its fair share of suspensions for the 2016 NFL season. While some of the suspended NFL players will miss more time than others, there’s no question that the absences will heavily impact teams. No suspension is likely as well-documented as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. We’re going to look at the five biggest, most important suspended NFL players in 2016. There’s no better place to start than with Brady and the Patriots.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
This offseason, Brady officially decided to give up the “Deflategate” fight, and simply accept the four-game ban that was handed down to him over a year ago. While he was originally expected to take the four-game suspension in 2015, he fought it out like the competitor he is, and it was in turn pushed back to 2016.
Apparently, the battle wasn’t worth it, as this was the last remaining piece of the scandal that lingered. Now, the Patriots will lack their leader throughout the rest of the 2016 offseason, including training camp and the first four games of the season.
The games Brady will miss include a few tough ones against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills. While the Patriots defeated the Cardinals handily, those other three games will be major battles (save the Dolphins, perhaps), and it’s not out of the question that Brady could return to a 2-2 or even 1-3 potential record. If this becomes the case, it will be an interesting uphill climb for the Patriots.
2. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
While Le’Veon Bell pushed to get his four-game suspension dismissed (it was reduced to three), it’s certainly an interesting situation. Bell was handed the suspension for missing a required drug test. In turn, Stan Savran of 970 ESPN Radio pointed out that Bell stated he changed his phone number recently, which is why he missed the drug test. That may be a fair reason for missing a drug test, but it’s unlikely that the NFL would do much with this information, as Bell was already in the league’s drug-testing program.
Essentially, lacking Bell in the lineup will be tough for the Steelers, but it’s something the team dealt with over the past years. Through his three seasons with Pittsburgh, Bell has played in 16 games just once, in 2014, while missing 13 games during the other two respective seasons. It’s a tough blow, but it means that DeAngelo Williams will once again have a hefty amount of work on the field.
3. Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Welcome back, Josh Gordon. Of every suspension on this list, there is probably none as exciting for the fanbase as this one. When the Browns discovered that Gordon would return after a four-game suspension in 2016 (although he missed the entire 2015 season), they were met with a ton of excitement.
Gordon broke out in a massive way in 2013, catching 87 passes, for 1,646 yards, and nine touchdowns in 14 games. Unfortunately, he played in just five games in 2014.
Regardless, his upside is essentially incredible, and now he’ll get to play with his old friend Robert Griffin III, as Charlotte Wilder of For The Win points out. Has Gordon really turned the corner? If so, then the Browns offense just got a whole lot more interesting, and may actually be pretty dangerous this coming season.
4. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers
Oh, Martavis. So much upside, yet the trouble lingers. As Marc Sessler of NFL.com reported, Bryant is not only suspended for the entire 2016–17 season, but possibly even longer. This isn’t the first time he’s been suspended either, as he has now violated the league’s substance abuse policy multiple times. Bryant was suspended for four games in 2015, and the same issues will force him out this year.
Will he be gone even longer than a year? It’ll be an interesting situation to monitor, but at the very least, the Steelers won’t have their home-run hitter in 2016. Bryant has played in just 21 career NFL games, totaling 76 receptions, for 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns. If he can stay away from the off-field issues, Bryant could still be in for a massive NFL career.
5. Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati Bengals
Unlike the four names above, Vontaze Burfict’s suspension is just a bit different. The Bengals linebacker will miss three games to start this coming season due to what Chris Wesseling of NFL.com called “repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.” This came after the hit that concussed Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the wild-card round of the 2015–16 playoffs. It was a direct helmet-to-helmet hit — pretty scary to watch.
Burfict will return earlier than the other names on this list, but his absence in the Bengals’ lineup will impact a team who has their eye on making a playoff run this season.